18 January, 2019

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Impact Of The Caste System On Social Harmony: A Study Of Six Villages In Matara District

By Udeshika Jayasekara –

Udeshika Jayasekara

This is a study of the impact of the caste system on social harmony in the Southern part of the country. For this study the researcher selected six villages in Matara: Aparekka  Devundara Eladeniya, Kottawatta, Deeyagaha,Kubalagama, and Eladeniya. This analysis considers caste impacts on employment, social mobility, marriage, education and their day today life.

What is caste?

The Caste system is the world’s longest surviving social hierarchy. Caste encompasses a complex ordering of social groups on the basis of ritual purity. 

A person is considered a member of the caste into which he or she is born and remains within that caste until death, although the particular ranking of that caste may vary among regions and over time.

What is Social harmony? 

Social harmony means minimizing the inequalities within the complexity of diversity using access and equity strategies and affirmative action initiatives in the society. 

Social harmony is a state of affairs where social strife is minimized through cooperation, compromise and understanding. It assumes that differences in identities as castes are artificial, bridgeable and non-fundamental, and hence, it is a situation that is not utopian but achievable.

What is Caste Discrimination?

Caste discrimination is caused by the caste system. In caste discrimination there could be harassment and certain prejudices. This discrimination of lower caste people is often perpetrated by people of higher castes. 

Impact of caste on education and occupation

Table 1: Distribution of villages according to the caste

This is a distribution of occupations based on caste.

Table 2: Caste based Occupation  

Figure 1: Occupations and social mobility

Three generations are considered under this: the respondents’ occupation, his fathers’ occupation and his grandfathers’ occupations. Above clustered column chart shows that two generations ago, occupations were closely linked to their Caste. But now situation has changed. In Goigama, most of their occupation had changed. Among the Govi (high caste), the emergence of numerous public servants indicates a growing inclination towards white-collar jobs. Nawandanda and Berawa caste people still engage in the occupation that is the same as their caste system. A moderate number of Karawa and Badahela castes have seeked new occupations. In kottawatta, Rada people are shifting towards other occupations. Nowadays Laundry workers have disappeared and it’s hard to find someone who engages in that occupation. 

Findings confirm that the importance of caste is reducing among both the higher and the lower caste groups within the Sinhalese community in Sri Lanka. A large percentage of persons were no longer occupied in caste-based employment as they move on to do their higher studies. There is a stigma associated with caste based occupations, therefore they tend to reach higher education and move from their caste based occupation.

Figure 2: Education level of six villages

According to this clustered column graph, 80% of people at least studied until O/L s in village Aparekka. This means, it improved their education level than in the past and now they are not engaged in farming according to their caste. Eladeniya and Deeyagaha people still engage in the occupation relevant to their caste. Because of that, many of them do not attempt higher studies and they practice their fathers’ and grandfathers’ occupation and engage in it. A moderate amount of Devundara and Kumbalgama people abandoned their caste based occupations and attempt to do higher studies.

The high drop-out rate of school children in rural villages among the lower caste communities may be linked to their economic status. In rural villages some schools are segregated based on their caste. Some of these schools provide only primary level education and if parents want their children to continue their education, they have to send them to a school four kilometres away from the village. Since the majority of the parents are poor, sending their children to a secondary school in town is often costly and children are more likely to drop out of school during this period due to economic problems. So low caste people have fewer opportunities for higher education among those with economic problems.

The impact of caste on marriage

Figure 3: Practice of caste in marriages 

Among lower caste communities choosing a partner and getting married is not a complex process as it is a simple matter of obtaining the consent of the families for marriage. In such cases, the caste of the partners is not a strong determinant. On the other hand, for a high caste person of a higher income, marriage is a more complicated process and they are conscious of factors such as caste, wealth and status of the prospective marriage partner. So 90% of high caste people are still prejudiced about caste in marriages. Contrastingly 66% of the low caste people do not practice caste in their marriages. Overall, however both high caste and low caste people consider the caste in marriages than in any other situation of their lives. 

Impact of caste on access to public and religious places

Figure 4: Access to temples, Religious ordination and Common facilities

According to this chart there is equal access to religious and public places to both high caste and low caste people.

Thippala Viharaya, which is located Aparekka, is an ancient temple. Until the early 1980s, the temple had a separate side for the low caste members and another side for the high caste members. Although the division does not exist any longer, today this temple is visited solely by the Goigama caste. For the low caste people they have their own temple in their villages. 

When concerning the ordaining of monks, lower caste villages ordain only low caste laymen. In high caste villages, high caste laymen are ordained. There is clear discrimination in the ordaining of monks in temples which are segregated based on caste.

For example, when considering Siyam Nikaya, Amarapura Nikaya and Ramanya Nikaya all monks in the temple of Aparekka village are from Siyam Nikaya. They only ordain Goigama caste for the Bhikku order. In Amarapura Nikaya, both castes are ordained but there is a preference to ordain those of a higher caste.

Inter and intra caste relations in society 

Figure 5: Inter and Intra caste relations in society

According to this line graph, 90% of the higher caste respondents expressed their unwillingness to have any social interaction with the lower castes. 80% of the lower caste people expressed their willingness to have social interaction with the high caste people. Among lower caste people there is an expression of willingness to enter inter caste relationships. In certain social occasions like weddings, funerals and other ceremonies high caste people do not like to see the presence of low caste people, but low caste people welcome the high caste people for their special occasions. 

10% of the high caste people are not willing to have any social relationships with low caste people because they think it as a shame for them. 20% of the low caste people often change their surnames due to the stigma on their caste and later on are unwilling to associate those of the same caste. Some are also afraid to have relationships with high caste people, because they fear rejection from high caste people. Interestingly, nowadays young people have changed a lot and they make new relationships via new technologies such as Facebook, Twitter or other types of social media irrespective of caste differences.

Types of caste based conflicts

Figure 7: Types of Caste based conflicts

Physical violence comes under the direct violence. Mental or psychological discrimination as well as verbal harassment comes under indirect violence. According to this chart 63% of caste based conflicts are indirect violence and only 37% of caste based conflicts are direct violence. Most conflicts are mental and psychological.

Figure 8: Caste based conflicts with other caste people

Table 3: Caste based conflicts with other caste people

Most of the time conflict arises between different castes than people of the same caste. Most conflicts arose between high caste people and low caste people For example: between Goigama and Karawa, Nawandanda, Rada, Berawa or Badahela people. There is increased conflict among Goigama and Karawa people. There is a perception that Karawa people are more aggressive than other low caste people. Goigama people have more power in society and lower castes fear them to an extent.

Karawa people spend most of their time on the sea and are engaged in a dangerous occupation to earn their income. Berawa people are dancers, drummers, shamans and charmers. Other people due to superstitious beliefs are scared of charmers and shamans and void conflicts with them. Even the high caste (Goigama) people are afraid to have conflicts with them. These caste based conflicts have a direct effect on social harmony.

Conclusion

The popular view that caste no longer matters in Sri Lankan society is not always accurate when considering the condition of the lower castes especially those who are economically disadvantaged. Due to the presence of the caste system in society people’s rights are obstructed and they face difficulties in their day today life. Although caste is not prominent as before, the situation has changed from generation to generation.

This survey was conducted and compiled by Ms. Udeshika Jayasekara, Research Assistant at the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka. She is a graduate from the University of Kelaniya with honors degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution. This article is does not reflect the stance of the government of Sri Lanka or INSSSL. Views are her own.

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Latest comments

  • 14
    2

    Very interesting Udeshika. Caste is a common issue in both Sinhala and Tamil communities. I have read that
    the JVP led insurrection of 1971 and the Tamil armed struggle also had an element of Caste in the uprisings.
    Dr.Gautam.K. Kshatriya [1995] in an article titled Genetic admixture of Sinhalese opines that 70% of them are of South Indian stock,25% Bengali and 5% Vedda.
    Prof: K.M.De Silva Prof:Emeritus History says that the Present Karawe,Salagama,Durawe castes migrated from South India to Srilanka between the 14th-17th centuries.No doubt they assimilated with the Sinhalese but the caste tag remains in view of their earlier occupations of Fishing, Cinamon peeling, and tree climbing[?] respectively.
    My view is that the Sinhalese are a lot more liberal when it comes to caste as opposed to the Tamils!
    When the Buddhist clergy are also ordained on lines of caste goes against the basic teachings of Buddhism!

    • 9
      10

      Plato

      J R told a journalist he always looked at the electorate’s caste composition before he selected the candidate.

      A few years ago my Sinhala friend got married to Sinhala girl. Her parents opposed it on difference of caste issue. I was asked to witness their registry wedding.

      If Sinhala/Buddhist are pretending they aren’t caste conscious liberals all they have to do is look at matrimonial sections of Sinhala and English news papers.

      Basically Sinhala/Buddhist are the descendants of converted south Indians.

      • 6
        4

        “Basically Sinhala/Buddhist are the descendants of converted south Indians”.

        But do you admit they are superior to descendants of some such women raped by keeping them as ‘common law wives’ by invading Dutch Jewish vagabonds?

        Cross your heart and answer with Arl on your side to witness.

        • 4
          0

          Paul

          Ken Roberts used to comment on anything genetics as he is not only knowledgeable but also interested in this field of study. He a medical doctor was not happy about the evidence and conclusion.

      • 4
        0

        JRJ introduced all retrogressive measures in the present day SL.He was like the pariah dog on the road.No service but bites people.

    • 11
      1

      Plato@
      You may be right. I have met dozens of Tamil srilankens in Europe and became close friends with some of them. So I have had the chance to get on with ones coming from varied castes.
      .
      There WHAT made me clear was – what you added above ” My view is that the Sinhalese are a lot more liberal when it comes to caste as opposed to the Tamils” i the fact.
      So at least for the migrant community that should be the fact.
      :
      But indian caste barriers are multiple than more than those seen among the srilanken tamils. I am telling you an incident where I was stunned by seeing how one indian graduate behaved infront of his senior lecturers. Just because of the lecturer belonged to a lower caste, he sat on the floor while the student was seated on a high chair. Asked why, then only some of them shared me, the gap between some castes in caste system.
      :
      As one who has been away from the country fo rhte last 3 decades, I feel, caste based conflicts in srilanka today are not at all comparable to what we noticed in 70ties and 80ties.My elders knew lot more and they too treated ones coming from lower castes as animals. Today only, I myself feel how discrminating our elders had then been.
      .
      . Those days, just being belonged to a low caste, getting a job as a clerk was unthinkable in southern province. Laundry caste was beneath all other castes. Govigama caste was held above, I hated it from the beginning on, but familiy hierachy did not allow stand against them.
      .
      In retrospect, I feel all these caste BASED discriminations should loudly be condemned by the media on and on, since none of us should be submissive to other. Only education and the charactor of a person should be the scale. Nothing else. If we would treat our own people bad, how can we think of not having race based conflicts in our countries.

    • 4
      2

      High Time that we cleanse the Buddhist establishment of the caste basis.Anybody who objects should have their mouths stretched from ear to ear.This treatment can be applied to even those who spread racialism.

    • 3
      1

      You say it is very interesting. Interesting it may be. But is this work credible? I am not sure. This work is presented with statistics giving it an appearance of research. But read thru the “Conclusions” again. Does that mean anything?? “Although caste is not prominent as before, the situation has changed from generation to generation.” What on earth does that suppose to mean?

      The proposition here is too serious, too controversial – the author has an academic responsibility to have this first published in a peer-reviewed publication.

    • 5
      3

      Plato you are correct to some extent about the Sinhalese being much more liberal in some ways with regards to caste but not in marriage , as evidenced by the marriage columns, where Sinhalese parents largely want to marry their offspring within their caste or a higher caste, especially the high castes. To Sinhalese belonging to the lower castes , just like the Tamil lower castes , caste is not an issue, as they have nothing to loose, compared to an upper caste Sinhalese or Tamil. The same phenomenon is found in the west , the upper classes and aristocracy are more conscious of their status and want to preserve it , than the masses , as they have more to loose and the masses less. Socially Sinhalese are generally more liberal moving with people of different castes than the Tamils, as long as they belong to their same social class , if they are lower they are uncomfortable.. However Tamils are more advanced and forward looking than the Sinhalese in other ways , when it comes to caste or religion. They are far more secular and less caste conscious when they choose a leader . Caste or religion or region is not an issue to them , they just want a Tamil who is capable of leading them. Unlike the Sinhalese , they do not like dynastic family politics and leaders. Despite being predominantly Hindu and upper/middle caste and largely from the north., Sri Lankan Tamils will choose a Christian ( SJV Chelvanayagam) , a lower caste ( Pirapakaran) or from the east ( Sampanthar) as their leader. The Sinhalese on the other hand will only stick to Buddhist upper castes and will not elect anyone else. even Christian upper castes like Bandaranaicke and Jayawardene had to convert to Buddhism to be acceptable to the Sinhalese masses.

  • 7
    7

    Eagle Blind Eye

    I don’t think what Udeshika Jayasekara wrote here is true.
    She must have been funded by NGOs, Christians from bible belt, RSS, CIA, … LTTE diaspora, C V Wigneshwaran, Magala and Ranil, ……………… another neocon project, product of western machination …..
    Don’t worry her research does not have any bearing on the ground.
    Perhaps her survey was done in the north and she has changed the caste names to instigate nonexistence caste war among Sinhala/Buddhists.

    I know you are a good person.

    • 9
      3

      Native Vedda!
      Why do you get hurt when facts are revealed after a research. You seem give a ‘character certificate’ to Udeshka despite her conclusion about cast system “I know you are a good person” I am sure she can produce your valid certificate where ever she goes for research.
      Cast system was quite rampant all over Srilanka, but I believe that the so called low cast among the Sinhalese/Buddhist were not prevented from entering temples/pansalas as in the case of Hindus in the past. Now all the Tamils can enter temples despite their so called cast, Thanks to Prabaharn the cast system melted out to a great extent. The Tamils who have migrated to foreign countries find it difficult to segregate the casts due to prevailing circumstances, except in case of marriage. But quit a number of Tamils are married to Koreans, Chinese, English, Americans and what not. Of course there are couple of divorces too but no due to cast. This include my Nephews and Nieces too and the parents seem to get along very well and converse with each others language to a certain extent..
      Also I noted that the off springs appears to be very intelligent.
      With the passage of time they will subscribe to the view of Pura Nanooru a classic ‘Yathum oore- yavarum kelir” meaning ‘Every Country Is My Country and Every One is My Kith and Kin’

      • 8
        3

        Fully agree with Anaga’s opinion. We must appreciate the troubles taken by Udeshika for presenting this report after doing detailed research on the issue. Being a person born and bred in Matara District I have to agree with the facts she has stated in her research. It is the stark truth. This caste discrimination is yet prevailing in a few remote areas of the southern province. Thank you Udeshika!

        • 3
          2

          Gratiaen

          “Fully agree with Anaga’s opinion”

          Why?

          “We must appreciate the troubles taken by Udeshika for presenting this report after doing detailed research on the issue. “

          I have no issues with Udeshika. My disagreement is with Eagle Blind Eye.

          Reread my comments to Eagle Blind Eye.

      • 5
        4

        K.Anaga

        “Why do you get hurt when facts are revealed after a research. You seem give a ‘character certificate’ to Udeshka despite her conclusion about cast system “I know you are a good person” I am sure she can produce your valid certificate where ever she goes for research.”

        My comment is addressed to Eagle Blind Eye and not Udeshika Jayasekara.
        I suggest first you visit your local optician and switched to delayed action mode when you read my comments.

        “Now all the Tamils can enter temples despite their so called cast, Thanks to Prabaharn the cast system melted out to a great extent. “

        I also think South Africa was liberated from Whiteman, thanks to Prabaharan.
        The woman suffrage movement in the UK won voting rights thanks to Prabaharan.
        Bangladesh was freed from Pakistan thanks to Prabaharan.


        ….

        • 1
          0

          The person to whom you have addressed was indeed confusing. I do go blind when reading your comments.. Apologize.

          • 2
            1

            K.Anaga

            “I do go blind when reading your comments.. Apologize.”

            If that is the case please feel free to ignore my comments.

      • 7
        4

        K. Anagaa,

        “Thanks to Prabaharn the cast system melted out to a great extent”

        How sure are you? One of the reasons Karuna sided with govt is Prabakaran’s discrimination against the east where Karuna Amman comes from. Generally the northern Tamils consider they are superior caste than that of the eastern

        He was a typical hypocrite he fought against casteism in the north because he comes from lower caste, Karayar (fishermen), while discriminated against the east

        • 9
          2

          Mohammed if caste is not an issue , then why do Sri Lankan Muslims like you constantly deny your predominantly low caste Hindu Tamil origin from South India and keep on claiming an exclusive Arab origin and heritage, that only a microscopic minority of your community partially have, to look good in the eyes ow the world? You and your community are the opportunistic hypocrites, nott Pirapakran . He never expelled or discriminated Karuna because he was from the east, on the contrary he appreciated Karuna and his brilliant planning and strategies and made him his deputy, to be the head of the LTTE if anything happens to him. He promoted him above many able efficient and capable people from the north. Whatever flaws Pirapakaran had , he never discriminated people on the basis of caste, religion or region, he wanted all Tamil people to be united and secular and he knew discriminating people on the basis of caste region or religion will put an end to Tamil unity. He expelled Karuna ,as he started to notice that there was a lot of flaws in his character and he was not fit to be a future leader of the Tamils , however much brilliant he was in his military strategy. Pirapkaran was very puritanical and incorruptible but Karuna was not , he was a womaniser and was not averse to taking bribes. Pirapakaran gave him many opportunities to reform but to no avail and he was finally forced to expel Karuna. He did not want to as he knew that Karuna will conveniently us the excuse that Pirapakaran did not want him , as he was from the east. Pirapakran was finally proven to be correct with Karuna.

          • 3
            3

            Siva Sankaran Sharma,

            You are talking Greek to a Chinese when you talk to me about a caste system. Also not sure Muslims were predominantly Tamils – something new to me, sorry. But did that happen after you were brought in for tobacco fields (by Portuguese, right?) or in TN itself? Please shed some light here.

            Now that you are in Australia though never passed through any of its airports, you are respected with a special caste, Refugee or Asylum! That is how a practical system works.

            So children killer and abuser Pirabakaran is still your God? True, though he promised to land you in the stars, he made sure to show you the moon at least by tarnishing SL name :-(

            • 3
              0

              Look at the all the garbage posted by you . Proves what I stated a nasty selfish opportunistic Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalist , resorting to lies and abuse when challenged.. Yes you Sri Lankan Muslims will never admit to your Tamil origin , as it is not beneficial but will jump and claim all sorts other heritages even Sinhalese however miniscule , if they feel it is advantageous to them. Typical low caste , selfish , converted opportunists . Tobacco was not cultivated during the Portuguese era but during the Dutch era. The Portuguese were very busy killing murdering and persecuting you low caste coverts along the western seaboard , as they never liked Muslims . You ungrateful creatures are only existing now thanks to the then King of Kandy and the Tamils of the east. Stop posting garbage. I have noticed you constantly come here and attack Tamils on this forum, most probably in other forums too. Fake Arab South Indian origin Wahhabi. You have no concern for any Tamil ,just was trying to create mischief and division amongst Tamils , for your own agenda in the east.

              • 0
                2

                Siva Sankaran Sharma:

                Ha..ha.. I am not against Tamils or you. I just like to pull your legs and make fun of you when I see you comment about caste system, that is all. We need old-school caste manics too for some fun. Stay around brother.

    • 10
      2

      As a professional sociologist and a regular reader of CT, I am amazed by the persistence and the nature of comments under the pseudonym Native Vedda.

      The person seems to be doing no other work, leading me to assume that he is a retired, old person. Secondly, his comments do not appear to have any moral angle or values attached. He/She seems to be pushing an agenda of interest to him, aided by channel vision.

      Native Vedda is an excellent case study for a project I am initiating on hidden behaviour on behavioursocial media, and would be thankful if the person could contact me at Ratnapala876@yahoo.com.

      • 2
        1

        Don’t you know?

        He is the cad (ex-Canadian) lansiya running a B&B along Kandy Kurunegala Road, on others’ lands

  • 4
    5

    This is an extremely low quality undergraduate dissertation as an attempted project in Sociolology.

    The lady writer may not be at fault, but her supervisor/advisor is a disgrace to the so-called educated ‘acedemia’. He/she doesn’t deserve to be employed by an academic institution.

    No wonder our country is doing so badly.

  • 7
    0

    Dear writer,
    I am from a village in the Matara District and my village is also close to your sampled village areas. About 40 years ago, that I could see the caste system was operating. But it is almost disappeared now. Most of the people in low caste, do not engage in their traditional professions. It is almost invisibale now. The caste system has disappered with the economic development and education. The other reason is that a lot of tradional village system or structure is disappearing becuase of the social migration or population migration. In my village a lot of outside people have settled in.
    When I was in my school, I had the chance of associating with all these different caste members. But we never had the discriminating mentality becuase of education. In my village, there are people called “Olee” meaning decendents from “”Solee” or from India.

    But still, I am not sure, caste system may be operating during the marriage.

    Overall, your analysis is good.

    • 7
      0

      Caste-based thinking has been part of the social ideology of South Asia for millennia. Urbanization has eroded the economic basis for caste dominance, but the ideological residue in the mind takes time.
      Compared to some parts of India, things are far far better here.
      *
      One thing that is not said by many is the impact of the political change in 1956. The socio-economic gains of the severely oppressed has been remarkable. Caste-based employment among the Sinhalese is steadily evaporating. But there is still some way to go.
      *
      Also, the economic and professional advance by the K, D and S castes enabled their elite to stand up to the G even as early as 19th Century.
      With Tamils, especially in the north, domination by the V (equal to G) was total and took until the 1960s to eradicate untouchability in most public places (despite anti-discrimination legislation in 1957).
      Caste is a much stronger factor among Tamils in the North, East and Hill Country, than among the Sinhalese. Negative attitudes are transparent, among the Tamil Diaspora as well.

    • 3
      0

      Sunil Dahanayaka@
      You may be right to some extent, but I really dont think it can be easily erasable in older mind set.
      .
      I believe the purpose of the article is to show that cultural differences between people reflect their cast, religion, education and other factors.
      Sure, there are whole lots of gaps between rural and urban people in the country. I think it is the culture keep the nation away from not becoming aware about what is going on in the country.
      :
      General perception on castes and creeds are poisonous than those living in urban areas. That alone shows more exposure and openness to information, the awareness would go rapidly. However, with the revolution of information technology, countries like ours have been manipulated by US and powerful nations only targeting the vulnerability of the folks. Like for example, Fbook had been advertised in SRILANKA by lanken media institutions, albeit Europeans would not agree to mislead the nation by that. As a result, today, many in the country are made slaves of FB, but over 90% of the members joined from like minded countries obviously not using it for their personal development.

      With improvement of IT, common sense of the people should be subjected to rapid growth. Is that case in SL yet today ? Not even urban areas, the average would be informative about the current day politics and the high harms being made by freed media and drug trafficking. Let alone, many are oblivious of today’s politics.
      I was born and grew up in a village in southern P Srilanka. But for the 2-3 decades I ve been living in Europe.
      :

    • 3
      0

      TO BE CTD
      :
      I stayed back after my graduate studies. My thinking has been very much influenced by western culture and nevertheless yet today I remain more SRILANKEN. So I believe, I can still read the mindset of the villages down there. Going back to my days, all what accompanied during my childhood, schooling etc remain as my sweet memories to me today. Those days (70ties and 80ties until JVP Insurgency towards end 89) schools, temples and some other factors collectively taught us everyone to be cultured.
      :

      We respected Buddhists and non-Buddhists, elders and we maintained relatively a healthy society. But today, after few decades gone, the society is turned out to be akin to TSUNAMI wreckage. To my eyes, our elders treated low caste people badly then even if we as their offsprings disagreed, with them, due to the greater respect we the children-parents had, blocked from speaking out. Today, the culture is totally mixed up but I have no idea it is for the betterment of the people or not.

  • 2
    0

    very article but caste system is ugly in India and more specially among Hindu culture.. they created this to exploit people. What a hell is this? Once Europeans had this mentality now it is all gone. With globalisation, so many Westerners have married Tamils, Indian,Thai, Chinese. and others. have they look into this caste they would not have married them at all. it is gone. there is no blue blood in the blood, all bloods are same all races are same, all biology is same , all human are same, same race and same humanity.. why do we divide people like this.. it is not good at all. that is why all third world countries are backward now.. India with its 200 millions so called Dalith could burst into ethnic fights unless these people are given their rights.. so, it is not wise to divide people in line of this.. also it is against UN Human right charts.. so, it is not good at all to see like that, it is harming human potentiality.. only good thing about it is racial discrimination is used by many people in Europe to claim asylum.. it helps some people to get better status than in Sri Lanka. so, once you leave Sri lankan soil your caste reward you with EU nationality. It is good for some people. but bad for millions of people in many countries.

  • 4
    1

    Udeshika Jayasekera

    It’s unwise to give undue importance to caste differences as that social wound is healing itself.

    In the past people talked about high caste & low caste but now people are more civilized to talk about different castes, giving dignity to everybody.

    If wealth & education are present caste difference may be forgotten/hidden in marriage provided the girl & the boy are from different parts of the country.

    In some villages, there isn’t a drummer (berawaya/panikkaya) to perform temple rituals.

    Some times people are in difficulty to find a ridee nanda (laundry person) in an occasion of a girl’s attaining of puberty.

    In the past ridee nanda bartered her service to paddy & other household requirements but today it’s a lucrative business that may raise her over her previous master economically.

  • 6
    0

    Udeshika has done a good research. Thanks to her.

    Srilankan history shows that a low caste Sinhala Buddhist is not preferred to become a President, Prime Minister , party leader, or appointed to hold an important ministry. C P de Silva and Premadasa were only two exceptions. Recent incident of opposing a governor’s appointment in Kandy by Mahanayake believed to be on caste based reasons show that Buddha is no more in Maligawa and rest of the country. May be he has fled the country long time ago when Vijaya discarded Kuveni and brought high caste girls from south India.

    • 3
      0

      Sadu,Sadu Sa!

  • 3
    1

    Udeshika,

    Thanks for a , timely, impartial and professional research.. Your findings clearly shows the changing pattern .
    But caste based on birth may be vanishing, but it will take different forms-professionals vs non professionals, educated Vs Uneducated, poor vs rich and so on..

    Equality among humans will always be a pipe dream!

  • 5
    0

    Udeshika Jayasekara,
    “In rural villages some schools are segregated based on their caste.”
    I am from down South. I have strong reservations about this statement. Give me an example. I will go and check. If found to be true, I will take Minister of Education to task. Ministry of Education cannot allow such a situation to prevail.

  • 7
    0

    As a Sri Lankan, I am ashamed that people even talk about Caste in This Day and Age! What is Caste anyway but an Imposition by a Majority Group on Minorities, to get Power into their hands, when they cannot get that Power by reason of their Intelligence and Ability!
    Look at the Present World! It is the CEOs, the Dancers, the Musicians, the Drummers, who are Looked up to Now! It does not matter how or where they were born! They do not have to be ‘Brahmin’ by Birth!
    People who call themselves Buddhist, should Read in the Suttas, how Unimportant The Buddha considered, This Differentiation into High and Low Castes!
    To Him what was more important were the Stages attained by a Person treading The Ariya Astangika Marga!

    • 3
      1

      Hamlet

      “As a Sri Lankan”

      I would be grateful if you could please explain to us the meaning, origin, legitimacy …. of the word Sri Lankan. Thanks.

      • 4
        0

        Native Veddah; Google Sri Lanka, and you will have the Answer to your Question! Depends on who was/is in Power in the Island at the Time!
        Taprobane, Tamrapanni, Serendip, Hela Diva, Ceilao, Ceylan, Ceylon, etc. etc.
        Let me know if you find any more!

        • 2
          2

          Hamlet

          Are you willing to accept Sri Lankan as your own identity although none knew the meaning of it nor did they voted to change the name from whatever to Sri Lanka.
          You have 1001 identity why do you call yourself Sri Lankan?

          • 2
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            NV;
            I am willing to Go with the Flow. Will change to Taprobanian or Whatever, if the Occasion arises. I am not Fussed about Labels, which cause so much Dissension!

            • 3
              1

              Hamlet

              “I am willing to Go with the Flow. Will change to Taprobanian or Whatever, if the Occasion arises.”

              I take it most of the dimwits in these forums are willing to kill people for the sake of the name and not for the people.
              A few crooked dimwits in the parliament could decide what to call this country without the consent of the people or understanding the meaning of it.
              Very well if that is what the people really agree no wonder crooks are looting the country and war criminals gloating about their contribution to mass killing.

              • 0
                1

                Not Taprobane, Ranmenika Brain that gave us 50 or 60 half-cocks would be a better name.

                Probably can work in ‘Poo’ somewhere too!

          • 2
            1

            Native Vedda;
            “What’s in a Name? That which we call a Rose would Smell as Sweet by any Other name”?

        • 2
          1

          BTW This Island is now called Sri Lanka. Maybe Subject to change in the Future!

  • 6
    3

    Sinhala Buddhists do not have a caste system similar to Hindus. What is found among Sinhala Buddhists is a Guild System. A guild is an association of artisans or merchants who oversee the practice of their craft/trade. This is completely different from the caste system of Hindus which is based on from which part of the body of Brahma the person emerged. During the time Kings ruled the country, he assigned different professions to different groups so that they specialize in that area. They passed their knowledge from generation to generation. King also gave land (Nindagam) to these people.

    • 4
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      India isa country of 1300 mio of people while Srilanka is tinier to them and 22-mio nation. .
      .
      Sinhala Budhists ARE reduced to a group of people that work for Rajapakshe power greedy politics today WHERE AS real buddhists remain as had been before in their NON-VIOLENCE modes practising lord buddha’s teachings to the letter.
      .
      Unfortunately, so called ” sinhala buddhists ” are made to believe to serve some extremists groups today – there they seem to be forgetting almost everything as buddhism taught to them. They are just cheaters be them in robes or as lay people: They are doing the same hate and fear mongering work in order people to be brainwashed so that predatory rajaakshes could reap the harvest for the power struggle. :One separate category of monk is also in lanken parliament, whose behaviour is seen no different to a mad dog – behavour is mixed up time to time. :
      .

      :

    • 1
      3

      Eagle Blind Eye

      Do you what you are talking about?

      “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to talk and remove all doubt. Mark Twain”

    • 1
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      There was a time not long ago that members of a certain large caste group could not cover their shoulders or wear slippers in the presence of the Govigama elite.
      What the Rodiya community still suffers is worse than untouchabilty.

  • 3
    1

    Humans have exploited fellow humans and this caste system was created for this purpose. Fortunately this evil is on the wane.
    Some extremists have made a living pointing this out this in N&E.
    Udeshika Jayasekera has researched and has presented the caste system in a few Sinhala villages.
    .
    It is worth pointing out that caste system played a role in British elections!
    Moves were made to make caste system illegal in UK. Much to the dismay of the then PM David Cameron, high caste Indians opposed it. Politician Cameron caved in.
    In Canada a University sponsored research on caste system could not even commence because of opposition by Diaspora Tamils.

  • 2
    1

    caste structure may be more prevalent in tightly knit rural communities. with migration and in urban communities, it may not be as prevalent, particularly in the work space, etc but it does not mean the caste structure is disintegrated. it is still intact and propagated, particularly if one looks at the matrimonial columns and the people in positions of higher authority/ruling class. it is interesting to note many sinhalese commenting here about casteism among the tamils when they are divided among caste, class, region (lower and up country sinhalese), the sanghas, and even discriminated by the colour of their skin.

    • 2
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      They always start commenting about Tamils when challenged about their own internal caste structures and other weaknesses , as they do not want to deal with them , deflect criticism from them, cannot bear to be criticised and lastly in general hate the Tamils. They cannot understand why someone , especially another fellow Sinhalese is criticizing them instead of the hated Tamils. Caste system is still largely intact . The Caste system in Sri Lanka both amongst the Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils is not as cruel or even rigid as in India , but it does exist. Like you stated in urban areas , it is very much less prevalent , especially in places of work and socially, as long as the lower caste member is educated and belongs to the same social/economic class, however if the lower caste member is poor still doing their traditional job, the upper castes will discriminate them and are uncomfortable around them. Just look at the marriage columns, they way the Sinhalese elect their MPs and leaders based on caste.. certain Buddhist sects in the island will only ordain monks and nuns only belonging to the upper castes and the recent utterances and concerns of the Kandy Mahanayake with regards to the former governor of NP caste and how the government , instead dismissing them complied with them. Despite all this Sinhalese will state we are not caste conscious but Tamils are.

  • 4
    8

    Dear Udeshika,

    Very nice compilation of stats. As one can see from your graph, the highest number of University graduates are from the Goivgama caste. And this is not surprising given that Govi/Radhala folks are the most intelligent in the island. And no wonder that the rest of the creatures can’t get past HSC.

    It would be interesting if Udeshika did a caste study right here in this forum. Low caste rif-rafs here like Veddha would have to reveal his education. Rather the lack of it. Would be embarassing for everyone when that is revealed.

    • 4
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      Rtd. Lt. Reginald Shamal Perera ,

      When Lankans come out to other countries, a different set of IQ’s show up.

  • 2
    10

    This brings to my mind a story which my Brother-in-law once said.

    My BIL is the MD of a famous company in Sri Lanka. But more importantly he is also a person from a high caste Radhala family. To be specific a Dunuwille family product.

    So, once when he was recruiting someone for the IT department of his company, this Karawa fella had applied and come up with a Bio-data calling himself a “Software Engineer”. My BIL had met him face to face and asked more about his family genealogy than his qualifications. Unable to answer my BIL, he had admitted he belonged to a Karawa family.

    My BIL then went ahead and selected him. On his first day at the job he had wanted to sit at a desk and asked for a computer from the HR. My BIL then had intervened and asked the HR to hand him a mop and a bucket and sent a note through the peon to him saying that is the only kind of job he could do at this time.

    He had taken his lunch packet and walked out.

    The moral of the story is that these low caste rif-rafs don’t even have the courtesy to thank us when we offer them some kind of work.

    • 4
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      Please ignore this Rtd. Lt. Reginald Shamal Perera, a typical “pissu” poosek. Poor fellow needing some medical attention, entered a wrong territory without some reforms.

    • 0
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      Lt.shamal perera

      reminds me of what happened to muhamed ali,when he was known as cassius clay. and had won the olympic gold medal(which he threw into a river when he was refused a drink in a bar due to his colour even though they knew he was a gold medallist) and now wanted to do professional boxing.A very rich white boxing promoter took him in and put him in a house with a old white woman to supervise him.She would put the food in a plate and keep it on the ground. He had to do all the menial work there and the promoter would always when he meets clay would say to be patient until he gets him a fight.Clay left the place in disgust just like your BIL’s karawe recruit.Just like your BIL said,this rascal was not grateful for the free food and lodgings provided to a black by a white.This is from the horses mouth ali to me.

      Then clay was selected to a professional boxing camp where they were training the best boxers.When he went there he was told the first 6 months he has to do only cleaning and no sparring.The next 6 months other odd jobs and after two years only the real training will start.The ‘rascal’ said thank you,he will do his own training.

      The moral of this story is everyone is not prepared to take the shit dished out to them.Singapore flourished while we went down because lee kuan yew could not care a fig for factors other than merit.It was a country full of coolies brought by the british.You had to only work hard,be honest and law abiding,and you come up in life.

      ps.Thank god my father who was from a very poor family and from ‘low’ caste and rose to senior executive level in a large organisation was not interviewed by your radhala BIL.My mother from so called ‘high’ caste will tell lies and be nasty to others,but my father will never lie and always treated people respectfully.The moral of the story is caste is BS.So much for your caste tales compared to real life mine.

  • 3
    0

    Eagle EVIL guy is dementia patient. Let s forgive him. Mostlikely he may not know who his family ones are.
    :
    But his hatreds against minorities is beyond his control.
    :
    There he will need a special injection.
    :
    Let s wish this senior Willie ALLEs Gute ! all the best.

  • 9
    0

    Thanks Udeshika for presenting the results of your research study. One point I m concerned with is the lack of information about the number of people you interviewed in each village/caste and altogether? This is the most important point when you use percentages for your analysis and arriving at conclusions.Did you select equal number of respondents from each caste? or a different number? If the latter you need to use some weighting method to validate your findings.

    Numbers selected for the study sample – if not done correctly- can have an impact on conclusions by way of distortion.

    • 3
      9

      Siri,

      Why are you concerned about the number of people she interviewed?

      Don’t for a moment underestimate her work. It ain’t no easy task interviewing these low caste creatures.

      Try talking to the fella called “Native Veddha” here. The filthy words he uses here and the name calling are some of the worst hulabaloo you will ever hear in your lifetime. Such is the caliber of the man (or the lack of it) that he prides in himself when he uses them.

      • 7
        0

        Rtd. Lt. Reginald Shamal Perera,
        Do you have a caste system among your Species also?

      • 5
        1

        Retarded …………………….

        “Try talking to the fella called “Native Veddha” here. “

        Of course you will soon wisen up if you are a normal person. However you have time and again proven yourself to be beyond redemption.

        You should seek employment and apply to Shavendra Silva as a spit polish boy, even that requires skills, patience, …….. some intelligence.

  • 3
    0

    When we use statistical analysis to highlight some hidden results, we have to reveal the number of subjects involved in each group as well as how random was the selection of subjects. I hope the author would include that information in her next report. Thanks for sharing your results.

  • 3
    0

    Udeshika Jayasekera, has selected only just six villages in the Matara district, if she goes around the country she would find that every village, Sinhala & Tamil (except the Muslim villages) in this country are caste based.

    The village that I live in has about 200 homes and all of them are from one caste, except for one or two families. The village temple is of the higher Govigama caste, whereas the others in the village are of a lower caste, the Hakuru or Wahumpura.
    Though the 200 homes provide the daily “dana” to the village temple the members in these homes are not permitted to ordain themselves here. All other religious observances are also revolved around the village temple from births to deaths.

    Interestingly and incidentally our family has lived in this predominantly Sinhalese Buddhist village for more than 100 years and we don’t belong to either the majority or the caste of the temple.

    We presently live in the village after retirement, and would be one of the very few anywhere in Sri Lanka who would be what anyone would call appropriately “ROUND PEGS IN A SQUARE HOLE”.

    We own substantial property in the village and live in the Bungalow built by our grandfather in 1926. The bungalow is the largest family abode in the whole village and is located on the highest point in the village in a picturesque setting.

    I would consider our apolitical, pragmatic and secular thinking down the three generations that we have lived here to be the main reason for us being able to live in harmony with the village temple Custodian and all the rest around us.

  • 2
    0

    Good to hear that Sinhala Community is showing progress on Caste relations. But the religion related caste practices seems to be regressed as temples are being separated caste based. That religion is probably most painful to the country. It is really disappointing to know even the ordination id caste based. Buddha revived Dravidian Brahmanism (Sanyasi based), only oppose Aryan Brahmanism (Caste based)

    I think, on temple issues, North East Hindu showing more progress that Buddhists. Hindu temples are covered by FP’s Private Act of Temple Entry of 1957. Most of the Hindu temples are privately owned by philanthropists. They build the temples and let the public to use, but keep the ownerships with them. But even a private temple is stopped from denying entry for a person, solely based on his/her caste. Still, because they private properties, some kind of maneuverability is possible.

    One time Federal Party MPs have been visiting people’s houses to eat from untouchables and clean their area. I am not sure why or how those activities died. Probably after Sirimavo funded Shanmuganathan spread violence, they dropped it, it seems.
    Unlike Leader Pirapaharan, NPC didn’t show any new guidance to Northern Tamils on this. CV was mainly selected for his Tamils’ right stand. He can’t be blamed heavily on this. When he heard, earlier, that in Mullaitivu like area the discrimination was very severe, he took some action to control it.

    • 1
      0

      “Most of the Hindu temples are privately owned by philanthropists.”
      A place of worship is a public place. Even a privately owned cinema theatre cannot discriminate on who could enter.
      NO Jaffna MP dared to propose the Social Disabilities Act of 1957. They got the MP for Trincomalee propose it.
      The 1957 act was too weak to achieve much in Jaffna. It took a huge mass campaign from 1966 to 1972 to make many temples including the Maviddapuram temple, public wells and several cafes accessible to all.
      *
      “Leader Pirapaharan” took a stand on caste issues when he needed the ‘untouchable’ lads and lasses as cannon fodder.
      Ask the ‘lower castes’ about how things were in the Vanni when they fled Jaffna in 1995. Ask why some smaller temples in Point Pedro remained open only to the upper castes.
      Mullaitivu was not as reputed for caste oppression as the Peninsula.

      • 0
        0

        ” The 1957 act was too weak to achieve much in Jaffna. ”

        Blah Blah SJ,
        Why are you so confused on everything? Maviddapuram temple entry case verdict was based on Federal Party’s (ITAK) private act. Owners charged 50,000 based on it. Private bills or acts are always very strong because they overrule the fundamental right of private citizens. You probably don’t have the wildest guess of what a private bill means. If you don’t know please ask for it. I never heard a theater entry case was also based on that act. If you know one, please let know. If you don’t know one case like that, that means you have no idea of what the Hindu caste system means. That is why sheepishly you are dragging theaters, which represent only Western model, here.

        ” NO Jaffna MP dared to propose the Social Disabilities Act of 1957. They got the MP for Trincomalee propose it. ” What is the big idea behind this imbecile talk. Are trying to telling me Trico is not Tamils area or Trinco MP is not FP MP, or even FP doesn’t place candidates in the East. Why is being a destroyer of Tamils just to gain small name of showing that you know better, but not really.. Why are you wedging between Jaffna and Trinco. Don’t be a pointless pesky like that again.

  • 3
    6

    Udeshika Jayasekara,

    Very good info and presentation. I just have a simple question, just curious, “Are all Govigama caste girls fair, slim and tall?”

    When I feel bored, I even read matrimony sections in the news papers.

  • 3
    1

    Well done Udeshika.
    Keep it up and write more.

  • 2
    0

    Caste comes from devil..
    Caste is evil arrogance of saytan..
    Who said to Good?
    I’m better than man.
    You have created him from clad.
    You have created me from fire ..
    Now he said to God.
    I’m better than him..
    Superiority complex .
    Now; people copy devil to make division in the name of caste; religion; race; nationalism; language; tribe; wealth; politics; family names ; so many other worldly issues make some people feel superiority complex ..all blood are red.
    All biology is same …
    We all eat same amount of food..
    May be some little bit more..
    But not like elephants..
    It’s devil wispher to say some are good ?
    Who knows?.
    When you close tour eyes ..
    When you die you will know who is better..

  • 2
    0

    Thank you for a data-based observation based article. Very eye-opening. Also sad, because the Buddha preached something diametrically opposite to this. In fact, one of the major reasons for his breaking away from backward stifling Hindu doctrine was the concept of caste that held people back. As for Sri Lanka, JVP’s violent upheavals even in 1971 were mostly from socio-economically disadvantaged regions of so called “low caste” areas from Sabaragamuwa to the deep south. Kegalle/Mawanella to Hambantota to Tissa to A’pura to Medawachchiya etc. I find it sad that people with no accomplishments to speak of still are hung up on this bullshit “I am Kandyan, I am Radala” bovine excrement to show how important or socially relevant they are. As an old saying went ” Podi lindey inna podi gemmabth hithanney eya lokui kiyala”.. Same hangup not just G or K or whatever in the upper income groups are still prevelant. But I do feel because of the way University education system is set up, it help emancipate people even Tamil people who are cursed by their caste doctrine to overcome it and become upwardly mobile. Buddha would be shocked at the ludicrous caste based discrimination in ordination to Siam nikaya too. What a sad situation like the deep south where Southern Baptists in the US are so racist and segregated, you wonder if they are even adherents of Jesus’s teachings! White Evangelicals are the same racists shits who want to remain segregated by color. So this caste thing is totally ludicrous; but a reality and you describe this reality well. I am lucky my mother was more from the liberal side but I grew up remembering that even our family driver the loyal man friday would not come and sit at the dining table even when “I forcibly invited him to sit, if my parents were present.

    • 0
      0

      Mano Ratwatte,

      All said and done there is One thing that stands out between the high and the low caste and that would be the inherent inferiority complex in the latter. The latter may try their best to overcome this inherent trait but it would surface unknown to them.

      You would have experience in this as you are from the former.

      Till this is shed the caste system in Sri Lanka would continue and persist.

      This inherent inferiority complex could be because of social standing, status, education, poise, charm, manners, etiquette, schooling, social circle and above all the command of the English language.

      The practice of Buddhism in Sri Lanka also revolves around the caste system and we would NEVER have a Mahanayake from the Asgiriya or Malwatte chapters from a lower caste other than being from the radala or govigama, even in the next 100 years.

      This is the fact and it could be bitter for many. Reading through the matrimonial column in any newspaper the prevalent caste system would strike you very forcefully.

      P.S – Please read my comment above

  • 2
    2

    After the war the so called Brahmin Tamils were housed and fed separately with separate facilities in the refugee camps. So called LTTE were mostly from oppressed lower castes. Vellalas just loved the idea of low caste tamils dying for their Eelam. LTTE helped emancipate a lot of Tamils who felt like the Negro Africans in Congo, Sierra Leone etc where drugged youngsters with guns from the RUF became power equalizers; LTTE not quite like that but still became power equalizers for Tamils. Low caste tamils got help from the Sirimavo regime to be admitted to a big temple in Jaffna and there was an incident because the high castes blocked them.

    • 1
      0

      Thangamma

      “So called LTTE were mostly from oppressed lower castes.”

      Brilliant.
      Could you name a few?

      “LTTE helped emancipate a lot of Tamils who felt like the Negro Africans in Congo, Sierra Leone”

      Thank you for lessons in political geography.
      Do the blacks still call themselves Negro?
      You sound like you need to be liberated from old colonial ideas of people.

      “LTTE helped emancipate a lot of Tamils who felt like the Negro Africans in Congo, Sierra Leone”

      “Low caste tamils got help from the Sirimavo regime to be admitted to a big temple in Jaffna and there was an incident because the high castes blocked them.”

      Seriously?
      What was the incident, where did it happen, when did it happen, ……………. ?

    • 1
      0

      Another Sinhalese posting lies and racist propaganda about Tamils to deflect the caste issue with regards to the Sinhalese. They immediately start attacking the Tamils. Oh really! Brahmins were housed separately from other Tamils why ? The rapist Sinhalese armed forces noticed lots that lots of Tamil Brahmin females were light skinned and good looking so decided to keep them separately ? After all the Hindi and Tamil cinemas were at one time ruled by Tamil Brahmin beauties. The Tamil Brahmins and other Hindu priests were constantly targeted by the Sri Lankan armed forces and Sinhalese racists for more special treatment, as they felt they represented Hindu religion and were the custodians. That many Indian Tamil Brahmins without knowing what really happened and for their petty revenge against the Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu ,were supporting these racists against their own fellow Tamils really annoys and irks me.

  • 0
    2

    This is social engineering. Why inthe so-called Developed or rich society, a Company is passed by the father to children. That is common every where in the world. How do you connect occupying in the same family in the same job with the Caste. This is social engineering to destroy the Sinhala culture and the civilization. these stupid people or their thesis supervisors do not know how to select research topics or they conduct directed research to destroy the society.

  • 2
    1

    This is all Crap research by Dumb people. I do not know who supervised these research or who funded and which institute collaborate these researhes. This is all wrong representation. The topic and the subtitiles of your research do not relate at all.
    Most probably, one think has plans to destroy the Sinhala society and that is the objective.
    I think your institute conduct CRAP research. check and see your title and sub topics does not relate

  • 1
    1

    Buddhism, colonial influence, Islam almost nullifies the play-acting of the Hindu caste system.

  • 0
    0

    You have left out the DURAWA who are perhaps the most prominent group in Matara

  • 2
    1

    I challenge you, Ms Jayasekara, you can not defend this article in the form of a Research Paper in a Scientific conference where many Sri lankans are present.

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