A Buddhist monk has suffered serious injuries after setting himself on fire outside the temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in the city of Kandy on Friday to protest against the cattle slaughter in Sri Lanka.  

Buddhist monk
Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Bowatte Indaratane sets himself on fire in Kandy May 24, 2013. According to local media, the monk had set himself on fire in a form of protest against the slaughter of cattle. REUTERS/Stringer

The monk, who suffered 90 percent burn injuries, is said to be in critical condition, Sunday Observer quoted hospital sources as saying.

The monk, identified as Ven. Bowatte Indrarathana Thera, is being treated in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and his condition is very serious, Director National Hospital Colombo, Dr. Anil Jasinghe said.

The monk was initially admitted to Kandy Hospital, but he was later shifted to Colombo National Hospital by air.

According to reports, the monk said before setting himself on fire that his action was to protest the killing of cattle for meat. He reportedly poured petrol over his body and set himself ablaze near the temple during an important Buddhist festival, according to eyewitnesses.

"Policemen near the temple doused the flames and rushed the monk to hospital," police spokesman Buddhika Siriwardena told AFP.

"Just before setting himself alight, he shouted that his action was to protest the slaughter of cattle."

The incident occurred when the country celebrated Wesak or Vesak, the commemoration of the birth, enlightenment and the death of Lord Buddha. Wesak is celebrated with two day holiday in the Buddhist-majority country.

In the view Wesak, a large number of devotees, who witnessed the incident, gathered in the holy city of Kandy. Some of the people took immediate action to extinguish the fire and send the monk immediately to hospital.

Buddhism preaches against killing of any life form. Earlier this year, several Buddhists staged rallies to boycott halal-slaughtered meat and other products that carry a halal certificate, AFP reported.

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Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Bowatte Indaratane sets himself on fire in Kandy May 24, 2013. According to local media, the monk had set himself on fire in a form of protest against the slaughter of cattle. REUTERS/Stringer
Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Bowatte Indaratane sets himself on fire in Kandy May 24, 2013. According to local media, the monk had set himself on fire in a form of protest against the slaughter of cattle. REUTERS/Stringer
Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Bowatte Indaratane sets himself on fire in Kandy May 24, 2013. According to local media, the monk had set himself on fire in a form of protest against the slaughter of cattle. REUTERS/Stringer
Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Bowatte Indaratane sets himself on fire in Kandy May 24, 2013. According to local media, the monk had set himself on fire in a form of protest against the slaughter of cattle. REUTERS/Stringer
Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Bowatte Indaratane Thera is tended by medical personnel as he is carried into a hospital on a stretcher in Colombo May 24, 2013. According to local media, the monk had set himself on fire in a form of protest against the slaughter of cattle slaughter. REUTERS/Stringer
Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Bowatte Indaratane Thera is tended by medical personnel as he is carried into a hospital on a stretcher in Colombo May 24, 2013. According to local media, the monk had set himself on fire in a form of protest against the slaughter of cattle slaughter. REUTERS/Stringer