24 August, 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

  • 5
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    The shocking attitudes of people like Lt. Perera and his Bil are precisely the kind we can do without. I wonder how the Lieutenant treated non-Goigama soldiers in the Army.

    • 3
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      Manel Fonseka

      Please bear with this retarded Walter Mitty character, he is only seeking attention by provoking descent readers.

      Retarded – is not meant to hurt disabled people.
      Disabled people are now being addressed as differently abled.
      In this context I believe the word retarded aptly describe this man/women/it and his/her/its typing.

    • 3
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      Manel Fonseka
      Don’t worry this Rtd Lt was only making pol-sambol in the Army.

  • 4
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    Retarded Perera, you a disgusting low life who in past had written about having orgasm while murdering people, raping, having sex with male prisoners and dead bodies now talking about etiquette and trying to teach the Native. You sure have been around MR for a long time.

  • 3
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    Native Vedda,

    Someone called Major General Mud Hole has identified you (above in response to my earlier invitation for you to contact me). If the good Major General is right I think I can find you (I am in Sri lanka at the moment).

    Could you please check above and confirm whether this information is right because there is much to be gained by contributing to this World Bank funded research project.

    Eager to hear from you.

  • 2
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    Another follow up: Is it is as prevelant as it was perhaps 50 years ago though? Look at the dynamism of the private sector in Sri Lanka today. It is thought provoking. I will never understand the discrimination in the Monk orders; Siyam Nikaya does not ordain non-G folks still right? why is this ? Tradition? because the Buddha clearly said

    “Najjajaa Wasalohothi; Najjahaa hothi Brahmano. Kammana Wasalohothi, Kammana hothi Brahmano”. No one is low or high by virtue of birth and we are of high virtue or higher order only and only based on our ACTIONS.,..

    But things are better than those days; I know for fact because I see the changes in the rural areas of my ancestors a bit too when I visit Sri Lanka. Perhaps during marriage time etc they raise these issues but is it still a social problem so to speak or just a fact of life?

    Definitely in selection of political candidates, Parties used to base a bit on caste considerations. I know this from my old days in Sri Lanka in the SLFP party family circles. A certain X caste is dominant in that area; that certain X card candidate is chosen.And perhaps even now people vote a bit based on that; this is a fact I know from reality of what I used to here. “so and so is W caste or D caste” and that area In Matara or Kegalla is that caste; so our candidate is that caste etc. Still used I think by UNP and SLFP /SLPP possibly.. Perhaps in India too they use this system. But nowadays I do not see the servility of the servant class from the maids and servants unlike yore. I strongly feel we are who we MAKE ourselves to be and our actions and our actions alone make us better or lesser humans.

  • 4
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    Your article is like Mahawamsa which has excluded the root of Sri Lanka’s actual history which began from King Maha Rawana, some 7000 years ago. (This time period is parallel to references in ancient Indian scripts.)
    During Sinhalese Monarchs, there was NO CASTE SYSTEM as all Sinhalese have worked for the King, and were awarded honorary terms in recognition of their exemplary services to the Monarch in every sector; be them rice farmers, cinnamon cultivators, astrologers, priests, soldiers, goldsmiths, silversmiths, blacksmiths, woodsmiths, drum communicators, archers, weavers or cotton spinners and were regarded equal in status as they all were part of a service to the King.
    However, all trades were handled by Monarch itself.
    As far as I know, ancient Sinhalese were not seafarers. That occupation has come from South India.
    Before the invasion of Portuguese, all Sinhalese were Buddhists.
    During Sinhalese Monarchic period, every Sinhalese were identified based on their birthplace.
    Later those who received honorary terms from Sinhalese Kings, added them to their names.
    British has also granted titles to those who were loyal to them in administration and defence and placed their residences above the dwellings of others.
    Sinhalese caste system actually started with the invasion of Portuguese, Dutch and the British as a result of some Sinhalese changing their names and religions to gain favours and recognition of European invaders.
    The majority of Sinhalese who didn’t change their names and the religion tended to look down upon those who did.
    Caste system further developed with the commencement of registering land ownership and identifying/categorizing Sinhalese based on their occupation by Dutch and the British.
    The impact of Sinhalese caste system highlighted in your article is minuscule (except in marriages) which could have been easily proved with the comparison of such people against the entire Sinhalese population.

    • 3
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      Champa,

      Name any ancient land where its ancient inhabitants did not made use of the ocean and have fishing as the major occupation. Indeed, Sri Lanka being an island, and with mountains in the center would have had most of her inhabitants making use of the coast. Your theory aims to make all Sinhalese one, except for the fishing clans.

      After Buddhism took over 2,500 years ago, many would have moved inland and into the farming so as to avoid killing fish. Yet, even if the fishing and other coastal communities did not practice Buddhism too diligently, their ancient Sinhala blood prevailed. Yes, there would have been association and mixing with the South Indian fishermen and other coastal occupations. On top of that was the colonial mixing. They still remain predominantly Sinhalese (75%).

      • 2
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        ramona therese fernando
        I only talk about the occupation, not people.
        They have surely engaged in different occupations previously before being influenced by seafaring of South Indian invaders and the people they brought in.
        There is no history whatsoever about inhabitants of Lanka engaged in seafaring, though they have excelled in repairing foreign ships that were wrecked by storms and building vessels for inland transportation purposes.
        If you have any evidence about ancient Lankan seafarers that I have missed, please feel free to share with us.

        • 2
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          Champa,

          The Historical mention of the repairing of foreign ships and the building of vessels is sure proof of the Sinhala people’s affinity to the coast and their knowledge of the sea vessels. But name me any land in the world with an ample coastline with plenty of edible matter in the waters that nobody fished for. Yes, Sinhalese were hardly seafaring people. They certainly didn’t traverse the seas, and there is no record of that. Yet the historical records do give much reference and inference about fishermen who lived along the coast for 100’s of millennia and have fished for their occupation. (remember, seafaring has a different connotation from fishing)

          Fish was never anyone’s staple diet, but rice was. So I guess no one exactly recorded about the different species of fish caught and eaten. Also fish might not have been mentioned because it involved killing of fish, and Buddhists would have wanted to evade the mention.

          Nb. Bengalis who traversed the East Indian shores would have certainly been seafaring persons. Hard to imagine those seafaring persons settling into farming occupations, unless they ruled over them and collected the staple diet of rice to eat with their fish.

          • 1
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            ramona theresa fernando.
            Before the arrival of Vijaya Hora, ancient tribes in Lanka; Yakkha, Naga, Deva, Raksha and small tribes including E-Yakas (E means arrow – Veddo) were all had used their own expertise for a living.
            To be precise, Yakkhas had produced all metal related equipment for defence, agriculture, transportation while Rakshas had engaged in agriculture and cattle herding and Naga had been traders and Deva had been rulers.
            Ancient traders (Naga) may have turned to fishing later or may be ancient soldiers who worked for Sinhalese Kings later became fishermen, as fishing cannot be done by everybody, one has to be very tough to stay in the sea for weeks/months.
            There is evidence in Deepawamsa, Mahwamsa and stories of foreign sea voyagers about inhabitants in Lanka’s connections with foreign ships.
            Eg: – Vijaya Hora’s ship/s,
            – the wrecked ship which brought Prince Dewol to Seenigama (who later became Devol Deviyo to traders),
            – then in the 3rd century BC, coastal people of sub-King Mahanaga of Ruhuna (Capital Maagama) had repaired “Sampans” (ships/boats) of ancient silk-route traders which anchored in “Sampanthota” which later became “Hambantota,” and,
            – according to Roman Writer Pliny the Elder’s “Natural History,” a Roman freedman called Plocamus who was drifting in the sea was carried by the wind to Lanka (Taprobane) and later entertained by sub-King Mahanaga until his ship was repaired. When he went back to Rome he had taken one chieftain-“Rate Rala” and 3 other officers to Rome as “Trade Ambassadors” which saw to the establishment of the first formal trade relations of Lanka (Taprobane) with Rome during Emperor Claudius Caesar’s time which had subsequently continued until the fall of Roman Empire in 476 CE.
            – According to Mahawamsa, Magama port earnings had made the entire Lanka prosperous and coastal people had helped sea-trading previously.

            • 0
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              Champa,

              I will guess that you say is actually written down in script. Script was written AFTER the advent of Bengali seafaring & soldiering Vijaya (who brought script….and came in with the advent of Buddhism).

              Being Buddhist, there of course will be little mention of killing of seafood by them. Likewise there is little mention of the killing of cattle by the Rakshas, although they were herders and are supposed to have used their herding for milk products. (Only the Vedda is supposed to have eaten meat, and they were not Buddhist). I mean, you can talk of herding (but not butchering), but for fishing, there is nothing else but for catching and eating fish. So, talking about the killing of fish was a huge no-no for the ancient Buddhists. They’d script about all the great sea-faring expeditions, but not about fishing. But yet you insist that it was only the Nagas who MAY have been fishermen.

              Sinhala race is supposed to have emerged from the ancient Lankan inhabitants, and the ancient seafaring Bengalis. That puts the coastal people (especially the fishermen) right up the REAL Sinhala path, especially as they have shown that great sea-industry-knowledge that you mention has been written. Huge set of IQ-skills there. Those interior are more of ancient Lankan stock. But no. Ancient Lankan pre-Vijaya fishermen did not go out to sea for weeks and months. They were not sea-faring like after the Vijaya-advent and as today’s trawlers are, but just fished a morning on the coastline.

              • 0
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                ramona therese fernando
                I said Nagas may have been seafarers as they were traders which is the only occupation of ancient tribes that can be attached to seafaring.
                I invited you to share your information as I couldn’t find any about ancient inhabitant engaging in fishing.
                And if there was any, I don’t see any reason for not mentioning about it in the history, as hunting is mentioned as a pastime for Kings (King Devanampiya Tissa.)
                The only such evidence about fishermen is related to Mukkuvar soldiers (mentioned in “Dambadeni Asna”) and Karaiyar soldiers (mentioned in “Mukkuvar Hatana”) who had come from Tamil Nadu later becoming fishermen in North and East. Other than that I have not seen any stories about fishermen.
                Vijaya Hora had come only with 700 other bandits and there is no evidence that all of them were alive. Besides, Vijaya Hora didn’t have children from his Indian bride. There were inhabitants in Lanka before they came and such a small group of people cannot establish a nation. There may be some descendants of them until King Pandukabhaya who had Yakkha blood from his fraternal side.
                All ancient inhabitants were not Buddhists.
                Yakkha tribe was demon worshippers, Deva tribe was God worshippers, Raksha and Naga were snake worshippers.
                When Lord Buddha visited Lanka 3 times, it was Deva Princes, who were the rulers, who built Stupas in honour of Lord Buddha. Only after King Devanampiya Tissa’s (who was a God worshipper) embracing Buddhism with the arrival of Arhat Mahinda, all inhabitants became Buddhists.
                About sea-industry-knowledge, sub-King Mahanama was not from South. He was from Anuradhapura. He was the elder brother of King Devanampiya Tissa who migrated to South with his followers after a clash with his brother’s consort Anula and built his Kingdom in Ruhuna.

                • 0
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                  Champa,

                  I doubt the Kings ever went fishing. That’s why there is no mention of fishing in the recorded scripts. Hunting on the other hand has been done by kings worldwide. Even nowadays, there is some machismo in hunting other mammals, but not fish ( except maybe for Moby Dick on the high seas). So, what was done by kings was always recorded.

                  All those Mukkuvars and Kariawas and Vijayas were of the North Indian blood.(like the Seikhs) That’s why they were seafarers and soldiers and were/are employed all over. Some might have come from Tamil Nadu at later times, but their ancient origins were from the north of India. They assimilated with the local people and their seafaring, soldiering and fishing genes prevailed.

                  Again I say that fishing might not have been mentioned is because recorded script came after the arrival of Vijaya. They would have avoided the mention and fishing because of Buddhism, and as an occupation it might have been phasing out. Till of course a new set of soldiers and seafarers came in, and it restarted again. They wouldn’t have come in en mass of course, but complemented the local soldiering and seafaring. Hence the fishing occupation was stimulated again. It came and phased out in waves as per Buddhism.

                  I say these as there are alternate ways of viewing history which can complement the written script. Better analysis will give a more holistic and realistic view of the past and relate it to the present. It will show us that others cannot be ostracized on whims and personal preferences. We have to see our Motherland as united and strong for the safety and happiness of her people.

                  • 0
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                    ramonatheresefernando
                    Mukkuvars (meaning divers) have come from South India.
                    The earliest mention about them was in the Chola army of Kalingha Magha between 10th and 13th Century. Then, in Dambadeni Asna, which says that a few Mukkuvar soldiers had worked for King Parakramabahu II. Later in Mukkuvar Hatana period, they were in Puttalama who were later chased to Jaffna by Karaiyars who had been brought down by King Parakramabahu VI (Kotte) and then to Batticaloa.
                    Karaiyar soldiers (meaning coastal) had first brought down during Kotte Kingdom to fight against Mukkuvars who were in Puttalam.
                    Mukkuvars were the first to embrace Christianity when Portuguese invaded coastal areas.
                    In addition to Mukkuvars and Karaiyars, there had been many groups, originally, Kalinkars (Kalinga Magha people), Vankars (Bengali people) and Cinkars (Sinhalese Yakkha) and later Sonakar, Podiyar, Kallar, Maravar, others I don’t remember now.
                    About Yakkha, they had been fighting against invaders during Polonnaruwa Kingdom as mentioned in “Mattakalappu Maniyam,” Kalingha Magha had defeated “indigenous Yakkha people.”
                    About the history of Yakkha people starting from King Maha Rawana upto the last Yakkha King Maha Kaala Sena who was killed by his own Commander-in-Chief, Kuweni with Vijaya Hora, the main written evidence is coming from ancient Indian scripts with constant mentioning of Rawana’s Lanka and Yakkhas as Yakkhhs had constantly fought with Indians.
                    About Buddhists and eating fish and meat, as far as I know, Buddhists don’t ENGAGE in fishing and butchery, as killing animals for their own consumption is prohibited.
                    I am a proud descendant of indigenous Yakkha. As Kalingha Magha couldn’t kill all indigenous Yakkhas which was a very large tribe, they have later spread throughout the country, especially to South (from Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa) and with their knowledge or not, the majority of Sinhalese are Rawana’s Yakkha descendants, not Vijaya Hora’s.

                    • 1
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                      Champa,

                      We are ALL proud descendants of the Yakka. Yakka is certainly a very generic race as per Sri Lanka. But some interior Yakkas did not have the fortune of mixing with the few virile outside seafarers (including fishermen), soldiers, pearl- divers , such that the existing Yakkas and their occupations were complemented by them….and their genes enhanced.

                      It is detrimental to our nation that a few interior Yakkas should deny the Yakka heritage of the coastal Yakkas in order to boost up their ego and substantiate their existence. Anyway, for generations, some interior Yakkas were claiming Vijayahood. Now that it has been debunked because the seafaring of Vijayahood (seafaring, fishing, pearl-diving, soldiering) shows more strongly in the coastal Yakkas, some interior Yakkas are claiming pure Yakkahood. That is wrong thinking for any sensible and rational country.

                      Ps. Name any country with a coast where the ancient inhabitants didn’t have occupations like fishing for edible matter in the sea, diving for pearls in the ocean, and soldiering to guard their livelihoods. (pearl-divers can also be seen as hardy people who can survive on low oxygen, such as those from the North Indian or even Lankan mountains).

        • 1
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          Champass the ……………

          “Sri Lanka’s actual history which began from King Maha Rawana, some 7000 years ago. “
          “They have surely engaged in different occupations previously before being influenced by seafaring of South Indian invaders and the people they brought in.”

          You are certain there was a king Rawana who ruled this island when seafaring South Indians invaded this island and brought in your ancestors.

          Just over 7000 years ago this island was physically connected to South India. Even 5000 years people from South India could have easily walked over the sand dunes created by water.
          There is no hard evidence to confirm Rawana ever existed.
          You have taken upon yourself the task of adding a prequel to the earlier Mahawamsa. Are you planning to write a sequel to Mahawamsa, say Mahindawamsa, Weerawamsa, …… ?

          • 0
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            Oi Moda Vedda
            Hoooo “Just over 7000 years ago this island was physically connected to South India.”
            Ha, ha, ha, Do you challenge Valmiki who recorded the story as it was told, how Rama and Hanumanta visited Lanka? Remember, they have come by sea.
            If India and Lanka were connected, why did Hanumanta build a path with stones in the sea for Rama to travel to Lanka?
            When Rama returned to India with Sita, he had flew in Rawana’s plane.
            Yes, one day I will see Pre-Mahawamsa is written.
            Deepawamsa is the most ancient chronicle, not Mahawamsa, which had only recorded a part of Deepawamsa.

            • 1
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              Champass………………………….. and Good Student with bad education

              Once again I suggest you sit down on your bum and fact check before presenting myths old and new in this forum.

              Are you disputing our learned eminent archeologists and geologists and challenging their years of hard work?

              Pull your head from HLD M, Weerawansa the windbag, …………………..**** and read the following:

              Early Man and the Rise of Civilisation in Sri Lanka: the Archaeological Evidence

              S. U. Deraniyagala
              Director-General of Archaeology, Sri Lanka


              Excerpt:
              ABSTRACT

              PREHISTORY

              The Himalayan foothills of the Indian sub-continent have yielded evidence humans having lived there around two million years ago. Although the earliest known dates for hominids in peninsular India are ca. 600,000 years before the present (BP), it is very likely that future research will indicate an age comparable to that of the Himalayan foothills, since there do not appear to have been any physical barriers to prevent humans from being present in southern India contemporaneously with their occurrence in the northern part of the sub-continent. Meanwhile, it is apparent that Sri Lanka was, more often than not, linked to southern India by a land bridge during this period. It is estimated that the sea level would have dropped sufficiently for creating such a connection on at least 17 occasions within the last 700,000 years. This phenomenon would have been caused by the rise and fall of the sea level due to cold/warm fluctuations in the global climate. The last separation from India would have occurred at about 7,000 BP.
              lankalibrary.com/geo/dera2.html

              Please stop challenging our eminent long established archaeologists.

          • 1
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            Moda Vedda
            You have connected two sentences of two different comments posted by me and asking a stupid question.
            There was no connection between what I wrote about King Maha Rawana and the influence of South Indian invaders in fishing occupation.
            I said them in two comments, each followed by separate explanations.
            Putting them together and trying to make a stupid statement is cheap.
            Don’t be so immature Hindian Vedda.
            If you can counter my comments, do it clean. Don’t use dirty tactics.

          • 1
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            Dumbo fake vedda,

            Sri lanka was nt was nt phyisically connected to India. Don’t utter such stupidities that fool Ranil might actually believe it. RW is very impressionable on certain matters.

            The reason was during the ice age sea water level went down. That is all.

    • 0
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      Udeshika’s observation about the Sinhalese caste system as a hindrance to social harmony is not correct.
      For an example, I am from a village (not coastal) where there were low caste families too. My parents and grandparents of both sides are Govigama but during Sinhalese New year, those days, a long time ago, when my mother sends plates of sweetmeats to nearby houses, she never excluded the poor or the low caste families. There were 3 such families, castes of other two I don’t know but there was one family of whom elders call “Hakuru people.” When we were small, when we take plates of kiribath and sweetmeats to about 7 -8 houses (those days, those plates were called “palangana” which is little bigger than “pingana”) my mother tells us to bring back only the 3 plates sent to poor families on return, as normally people are supposed to send the plates back with something on, not empty. So she gives us an extra packet of biscuit to keep in hand and when we bring the plate back home, she tells us to keep the packet of biscuit on it and bring.
      Moreover, when we were small, we had a dhobi woman too, who was called “Redi-Nenda”, who came every week with a bundle of clothes on her head. She enters the house from the back and keeps the bundle on the bed in the room adjacent to the kitchen. Before doing anything, she was given tea and biscuits and I remember she always sits at the edge of bench in the kitchen but my parents never said she was of low caste.
      Even when we visited relations of my grandfather’s side in down south, I have seen people who work for them have lunch there, irrespective of their castes.

  • 5
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    Though Udeshika Jayasekara has tried to highlight that there is a connection between some village people’s poor economy and their being low castes in this World Bank influenced research, it is far from truth. Long time ago, the British also tried to minimize the dominance of Govigama Buddhists in administration by granting titles, honours and positions to non-Buddhists which has now surfaced in a different tune.
    .
    Over 82% of the entire population in Sri Lanka concentrate in villages.
    Irrespective of their castes, the majority of them are poor as a result of selective administration by political leaders who only look after the interests of urban high class and wealthy Sinhalese neglecting rural folks.
    If there is any issue of poverty in villages, it does not based on their castes. For an example, a Govigama leader with a right vision can EASILY make them rich by implementing correct economic policies.

    • 3
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      Champass the ……………………..

      “For an example, a Govigama leader with a right vision can EASILY make them rich by implementing correct economic policies.”

      Thanks for tossing around ideas however why hasn’t the Govigama progressed in the past 71 years? Instead it votes alternatively either to UNP or SLFP only when candidates come up with competitive racist/bigoted policies?

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        Hindian Vedda
        No point of talking about the failed 71 years of the country governed by both UNP and SLFP + their breakaway party SLPP.
        People have now seen the “other side” of almost all politicians. Therefore, no point of electing anyone from those parties or their allies.
        All efforts should now be taken to move people out of party politics.
        The main reason people are depended upon politicians is their bad economic status and unemployment.
        Once people are out of poverty and stand on their own financial feet, they will stop depending on politicians.
        That is why the next President should be an apolitical man who would treat all people equally, irrespective of their social class and work with great determination to take people out of poverty.
        I keep on saying this to inspire someone to come forward and take the lead.

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          Champa
          Let’s be honest, Sri Lanka will never ever have a President or Leadership that will treat all people equally, irrespective of their Race, Religion, Caste, or Social standing. Anyone who comes forward to take such a lead will end up in a white van. Even if Sri Lanka becomes a highly developed country and poverty is eliminated, the extremist elements built into the political system and society in general will never ever be eliminated.

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            Steve
            Your opinion is based on the attitude of past and present politicians. Who knows, an apolitical man who is not easy to be intimidated will change the pattern.

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        Hindian Vedda
        Two main political parties maintain a monopoly in politics for their own survival. They don’t allow anyone else outside their parties to pose a challenge. Interestingly, many Presidential candidates who contested from minority parties or as independent contestants, were also stooges of main political parties.
        People vote candidates from main political parties as they have no choice.
        Once a choice is given, the result will be different.
        Anyways, someone should be very brave to challenge the current political leaders in the county who will use their wealth, power and underhand tactics to suppress any candidate who poses them a threat.

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        The Tamil Leaders prevented the Sinhala leaders from doing anything. Already in 1949 SJV Chelva started his antics, and in 1956-58 they began Hartals, tarring car number plates, street signs etc.

        It was actually not the language bill that the Tamil leaders opposed, but the laws against caste discrimination that SWRDBanda’s government passed at about the same time, allowing, for example, low caste people to travel in the newly Natioalized CTB buses.

        The Tamil leaders should have followed the Muslim Leaders like Marikkar and others and joined hands with SWRD to establish Sinhala and Tamil swabasha government.
        Instead, they used Language politics and racism to polarize and inflame the country, with a view to initially capturing the North and East as “exclusive homeland”, abnd then eventually the whole country, where as both the North and the East belongs of course to every Sri lankan.

        But if you wish to ask who it should belong to, then I say it should belong to the Muslims because we were in the Majority when Ceylon became a British crown colony, as many hisotorical records (including Captain percival’s account, and Dutch accounts show.

        It was the greedy Tamil Vellarar upper caste leaders, owning land in the North, and living in Colombo 7, who prevented the Singala leaders, and their friends like T. B. Jayah, Marikkar, Razik Fareed, Bad-ud-deen Mohammad and others from developing the land in a proper way.

        Today Sumanthiran and Sampanthan, who were LTTE proxies at the time, are talking of “oru-mitta” or hoodwink constitution.

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    Udeshika Jayasekara, please extend your research to the prevalence of gender bias in all strata of our society. For example the near absence of females in the hierarchy of Buddhist, Hindu, Islam and Christianity is bordering on the misogyny.

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    -If casteism is not in Buddhism, though Sinhala-Buddhist are practicing it: Does it mean that Sinhalese were descendants of Tamils?

    -And all of these caste names are coming from India, especially south-India: So all these Northern Tamils are also from South-India despite originality claim here.

    So all are from India.

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      M. Sajjad

      “If casteism is not in Buddhism, though Sinhala-Buddhist are practicing it: Does it mean that Sinhalese were descendants of Tamils”

      Only those practising Sinhala/Buddhists are the descendants of South Indian Kallathonies.

      By the way according to 1881 census there were 12,000 Tamil speaking Buddhists were found to be living throughout the island.

      Most of the of the people are descendants of South India.
      Please don’t confuse yourself with language, religious, cultural, …. replacement with origin of people.

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    Dear Ms Jayasekara, Thank you very much for a very constructive study analysing matters statistically to present a case. A very measured work appropriate for time when these are the type of work we should be focused for a long time in the first place.

    However we are where we are and your valuable time spent on something useful to our Nation specially to the folks who have to live this Institutionalised Racisim practised throughout the land will appreciate the most.

    I come from Vaddukottai constituent Jaffna and wish someone will take up a similar study there too………I grew up in an environment ripe with cast issues much worse than anything humanity heard of regard to human indignity where people were even prohibited from going to TEMPLE….SCHOOLS……I hate to list the rest as is so shameful.

    The leader of the TULF was an elected MP for 2 terms and Vaddukottai resolution come from this part of the world too. Now I ask how many mostly fishing folks left the country who have been absorbed into the coastal villages of Southern India got PR and Citizenship in India no international diaspora has no answer????? such is ignorance requires serious studies of your nature immediately. No one will ever dare publish anything because of this is a Crime against Humanity duplicity will show its true colours to the world an Inconvenient Truth.

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    You had the Tamil ‘coolies’ (no disrespect intended) and the tea plantations the country got rich from, but our first plantations were the rice plantations. The Mahavamsa talks about labourers and servants that were imported from India. These Shudras-Dalits (no disrespect intended) have bread themselves to a large and powerful bunch, drunk in a murky high (where all else is low) promoted against the wishes of the Buddha, by the local priests (adu kale helawima). As Robert Knox had observed how the farmer (soil-tiller) disrespected the technically skilled blacksmith (without whom we have no material history to show; buildings, artefacts, music, etc). Like the rot within contributed to the fall of the South American cultures, it was a similar story in SL SL castes are occupation based, so today the politician and doctor are the highest (and should ritually only marry likewise). Since, the larger groups have asserted themselves, in SL it is actually tribalism. Though, more money was spent on fish and dry fish to feed the betrayed last king Sri Vickrama Rajasinga than all other food items put together, this country firmly remains a paddy field and not an island. Think it was in the Para… Sutra that the Buddha states to treat those who observe caste discrimination as outcastes. Contrary to the author, race based hierarchy is older, now that could actually be true…??!!

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    This is a good study

    This shows where we are at (particularly in the rural villages studied)
    It is up to the people of Sri Lanka to decide and work towards where we want to go.

    It is the duty of a democratically elected government to facilitate the wishes of the people.

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