20 September, 2018

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Para Dhemalā: On The Meaning Of The Word ‘Para’ By Professors Sarvan And Roberts

By Agnes Thambynayagam

Agnes Thambynayagam

I am writing this in response to the articles published in the Colombo Telegraph by Professors Charles Sarvan and Michael Roberts regarding the meaning of the word ‘Para’ used amongst the various ethnic communities in Sri Lanka.

Amongst the Tamils the word Para is commonly used in the context of demeaning gesture. According to Prof. Charles Sarvan his Sinhalese classmates in Colombo called him ‘Para Dhemmala’. The meaning of the word ‘Para’, when used in such a context, originates from the word ‘Parayan’. This meaning of the word, however, is diagonally opposite to the meaning derived from the words Paranghi, Para-Rajasingham and Parama Pitha.

The word Faranghi in Portuguese means foreigner. Tamil language does not have the sound for ‘F’. Therefore, the letter ‘P’ was used in place of the letter ‘F’ and consequently, ‘Paranghi’ was adopted in the Tamil vocabulary for foreigners in the sixteenth century. In the name Para-Rajasingam, the word Para means Noble or Lord. Parama- Pitha is the God of the Universe where the word Param means the Universe in Tamil.

The word ‘Para’ that originated from Parayan (Parayar in plural) meant messenger before the twentieth century. Parayar were the group of people who went from village to village, beating the drum proclaiming the messages of the governors. In the twentieth century, the necessity for such a method of conveyance of messages became redundant, especially due to the arrival of the postal services. The traditional occupation of the Parayar was gradually eroded.  The market force created a new occupation for the unemployed group of Parayar to fulfill a necessary need of the local municipalities. Sadly, in marked contrast to their previous occupation, the Parayar had to settle for the job of collecting and disposing of the human waste. In Sri Lanka the people who performed such a task were viewed at low esteem and the word Para is commonly used in a demeaning context.

*Agnes Thambynayagam has conducted extensive research into Sri Lankan history between 1498 and 1833. A significant portion of her research was conducted during her tenure at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, England in 2003-2007.

Related posts;

Debate On ‘Para Dhemalā,’ Ethnic ‘Purity’ And Caste Ideology

“Para Dhemalā”: Response To ‘Confronting Charlie Ponnadurai’

Confronting Charlie Ponnadurai: Clarifying The Context Of Disparaging Ethnic Epithets In Sri Lanka Over The Last 180 Years

“Para Dhemalā”

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    Is it correct to refer a SL Tamil or Singhalese born overseas as a Para Demala or Para Sinhalaya?

    • 2
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      Wonder what derogatory terms, Tamil Speaking People use against Sinhala Speaking Sri Lankans. I am interested to know.

      • 1
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        Kavuma

      • 1
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        Mokku sinhalavan or sinhala modaya.

      • 1
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        Tamils say: Pilaka Manda (raw Jack head) or Koss kana Modaya, Kavum kana Modaya, Mada Chinkalavan (moda Sinhalaya), Modayage rate murugayage kodiya, Para Chinkalavan (para Sinhalaya), etc.

        Muslims also use different derogatory terms.

        • 0
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          wow , very innovative and an anti racist lot! congrats!

    • 1
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      Bedrock Barney,

      Yes. When they come to Sri Lanka, they should be called Foreign Sinhala or Foreign Tamil, or Para Sinhalas or Para Tamils.

      The Native Vedda should call ALL Sinhalas as Para Sinhala and ALL Tamils as Para Tamils or Parayan Tamils.

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        As per the his elders’ inclination Native Veddah may insist that both of these Kallathony alien predators should be banished forthwith from this Elu Atoll.

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          Vadamore

          My elders who posses wisdom, patience, generosity,…. have never admonished the Kallathonies to be banished.

          I confess that I do not possess their greatness hence I can freely demand the Tamils/Sinhalese to go back to their ancestral land.

          My elders are great people. You should meet them.

      • 1
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        Amarasiri

        My elders taught me to avoid caste politics, hence restrained.

        I will stick to Kallathony for the time being.

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      The word “Parai” (பறை) is a noun denoting the various types of drums. The main classification as per Tamil classics includes only eight distinct classes of percussion instruments according to their beats, sounds and usage

      This is evident from from the phrase கொட்டும் பறை எட்டு ( eight beats/sound). It is believed that the Adi Dravidars, who were mainly farmers,developed this contraption to scare away wild animals (incidentally this method is still being adopted in South India and elsewhere to drive away wild animals).

      Those who specialized in the making and beating of this drum were referred to as பறையர் (Paraiars). No stigma was attached to them as caste system had still not infilterated South India until the migration of the Aryans from the North.

      The influence of Father Time brought about many changes to the original parai not only in form and shape but also in its usage. The next metamorphic usage was to drive away evil spirits at funerals, for it was believed that evil spirits hover over the dead to drag them to the netherworld – the beating of the drums ceased only after the body was cremated with the Vettiyaan ( வெட்டியான்)the caretaker of the crematorium) sounding his own வெட்டியான்பறை. But today the Vettiyaan does not use the traditional ‘parai’. Instead he uses a brass cymbal while circumambulating the corpse with the next-of-kin performing the last rites.

      Next we find that these drums (பறை) assuming a different shape with the addition of a resonator (to increase the sonority) hung around the chest or loin by a cloth/leather belt and hammered with two sticks to a rhythmic beat. The usages of this model included public pronouncements of royal summons/administrative decrees and also in religious processions. Thus the ‘parayars’ became a clan by themselves and the nature of the drums they played decided their hierarchy in their own clan. I list below just a few of the drums which distinguished their social standing within the clan itself:- The advent and the influence of the Aryan caste system relegated this clan to the lowest and branded them untouchables. We have a parallel among the Sinhalese in the Bereawa caste (Bera=Drum) Berawas=Drummers. Here too they are considered very low in the Sinhalese caste hierarchy.

      Types of drums

      பன்றிப்பறை – Panriparai – To drive away wild boars and other animals

      உவகைப்பறை – Uvahaiparai – A type of drum played on happy occasions

      சாப்பறை – Saapparai – played at funeral houses to announce the death

      சாக்காட்டுப் பறை – Saakaattuparai – played while accompaniying the funeral procession.

      வெட்டியான்பறை – Vettiyaanparai – See above

      பண்டாரப்பறை – Pandaraparai (also known as Thandora) – To announce royal/Administrative decrees

      கோட்பறை, தமுக்குபறை – Kotparai, Thamukkuparai – Announces news (a sort of Urbi et Orbi)

      முரசம், வெருப்பறை – Murasam, Veruparai – To announce the declaration of war on another state

      தலைப்பறை – Thalaiparai – Played in front of majestic animals such as elephants, horses in a procession

      வீராணம் – Veeranam – A type of huge drum used to announce the opening of a ceremony or contest .patronised by royalty

      As the numbers in their clan multiplied and increased, jobs as drum beaters became scarce and they fanned out to seek other pastures in employment. With the ‘untouchable’ stigma on them, all they could find were jobs as scavengers and servile menial labourers under the more prosperous land owning upper castes. Some of the more industrious among them learnt the art of weaving and became ‘Seelai Pariars’ (Seelai – Cloth). We still have this caste in Neduntivu – aka Delft (Jaffna peninsula).

      As for the observation by Ms. Agnes Thambinayagam that Paraiar did the cleaning of toilets and carted them for disposal is not correct. The caste that did this work were ‘Sakkiliyars'(சக்கிலியர்) . Sakkilya is quite a different caste indigenous to Andhra Pradesh and they
      were imports into Tamilnadu and Sri Lanka from there long before the advent of the Portuguese. There are two classes of ‘Sakkiliyars’ – one involved originally in making of footwear and other allied products and now as roadside repairers of these. The other class being the toiletcleaners. In Tamilnadu these toilet cleaners are referred to as ‘Thotties”. You will still find them in Colombo. They still speak
      Telugu as an in-group language and at home. While the Sinhalese still call them Sakkilis, in Jaffna, Mannar and other predominantly Tamil areas they have been clubbed with the Pariars. I became aware of this when I was in Mannar. I happened to overhear a toilet cleaner talking to his wife in Telugu. When I inquired about this his reply was that his grandfather came from Andhra Pradesh and that he belonged to the Sakkili caste and that they still speak Telugu among themselves. One could easily verify this in Colombo from the roadside repairers of footwear and toilet cleaners.

      So much for the origin of the word ‘Para’ (பற)the adjectival use of பறை) and the confusion over பறையர் and சக்கிலியர்
      Note: பறை also has another meaning in informal Tamil mainly used by the older folks in Jaffna and Mannar to mean ‘tell’ ‘talk’ but the word is hardly in useage now. The word carrying this meaning is from the Malabar coast and it is one of the commonest words in Malayalam with the same meaning. Perhaps it is one of the many vestiges which affirm that the Tamils of North are of Malabar origin. But this is irrelevant to the subject under discussion.

      To clear Mr. Michael Roberts’ doubt raised in another mail you forwarded, I will have to do a preamble in Tamil grammar.

      This is the doubt vexing him

      “PARA in sinhala had a diferent history –even meant NOBLE in the 3rd century how and why it altered and got a double meaning and then its pejorative meaning is diff to fathom –maybe Tamil influence”

      In Tamil there are 18 consonants called Meyezhuthu (மெய்யெழுத்து) . These 18 consonants fall into three categories of 6 each namely Vallinam , Mellinam and Idayinam (வல்லினம், மெல்லினம்,இடையினம் ) according to their strength in intonation or sound. Vallinam encompasses the hard sounding consonants, Mellinam the soft sounding while Idayinam is in-between/intermediate..

      There are two R in Tamil. One (ற) falls into Vallinam being hard and is pronounced with the tip of the tongue almost vibrating on the palate – say rrrrrrrr. Parrotta. The other R (ர) which is soft, is pronounced with the tip of the tongue just touching the palate
      ( a nightmare for the Chinese *;) winking). Words containing these letters or their inflections have to be not only written but pronounced correctly as well, else they convey the pejorative meaning. For example the name Pararajasingham should be written as பரராஜசிங்கம்
      ( Lion king of the realm) and pronounced as so and not as பறராஜசிங்கம் (the paraya lion king ). The words containing the soft ‘R’ (ர) and its 12 inflections on the 12 Tamil vowels are unique to Tamil only. Speakers of other languages therefore tend to use the hard ‘R’ wherever these words had crept into their language. The word para (soft R) பர has a plethora of meanings especially when used as an adjectival prefix – some of them being ‘different’, ‘pre-eminent’, ‘excellent’, ‘divine’, ‘heaven’, ‘much’, ‘copious’, ‘distant’and also ‘Noble’.
      I do not know in what context Mr.Roberts read that word to mean ‘noble’ but if the root was Tamil, then it was பர and not பற; but Mr. Roberts probably does not know the nuances of Tamil grammar. Even educated Tamils make this error. I hope this will clear his
      doubts to a great extent. This should also provide the answer to Mr. Bedrock Barney’s query whether it is wrong to refer to a SL Tamil or a Sinhalese born overseas as Para Demala or Para Sinhalaya. If the hard ‘R’ is used, then certainly it is pejorative. But if the soft ‘R’ is used it would mean a Tamil or Sinhaese of foreign descent. But how many of the Tamils or Sinhalese can correctly pronounce the soft ‘R’ and so the word is always anathema to us Tamils and Sinhalese ?

      I also read the article ” Pernicious caste curse of Tamils living in the dark ages” by Ms. Pearl Thevanayagam. I have extracted that portion of her article that interested me. I reproduce it below.

      ” I still remember the day Rev. Sr. Christobel asked me to accompany her on a visit to Thiddy, an enclave of shanties right behind St Patrick’s College which housed the Parayar community, the most untouchables of castes in Jaffna because they were the lavatory cleaners. Knowing what would be in store for me if my mother knew I kept my visit a secret. I have always wondered why this community had auburn hair and either blue or brown eyes and reddish complexion.
      We visited a few houses, gave them some food and clothing, bandaged festering wounds, cleanedup a little round the houses and gave them advice on how to maintain hygiene”..

      While I admire her Christian charity, I am surprised that she didn’t pose them that question about their auburn hair, grey/blue eyes
      and of course the reddish complexion. May be her strict Catholic upbringing would have restrained her from posing such an embarrassing question. Had she done it, I am sure they would have gladly explained it and that too with pride. Now let me clear it for her. But before that, let me relate you an anecdote from my personal experience.

      Somewhere in the late 1950s, I happened to visit the General Hospital, Jaffna with one of my best buddies to pay a visit to his brother-in- law who was warded there with a complaint of lock jaw resulting from tetanus. After the formal inquiries and a “Wish you
      speedy recovery” we decided as usual to go to Colombo Restaurant (a liquor bar) for a few (?) shots. But before that my friend suggested that we do some ward-rounds to cap the nurses. I agreed without a murmur. While we were on this I observed a stocky labourer dressed in kakhi shorts and sleeved banian. What struck me as unusual was his piercing grey eyes, his auburn hair and moustache and above all the colour of his skin. I almost mistook him for Clarke Gable. But what the hell was Clarke Gable doing at Jaffna Hospital mopping floors dressed like that ??? There were no indications that a Hollywood movie was being shot there. So I asked my friend who that could be. In his usual nonchalant manner said, “Who cares. Must be some off-shot. Let’s go. We are already late”. The next day when my father was in a good mood, I related my experience to him. What he told me was something which appeared novel to me at that time. He said the person whom I encountered was a “Nola Parayan”. Thank God he didn’t say that the person was Santa Claus !!!. Inquisitive that I was, I asked him, “I know and have heard of Seela Payrayar, Sweeper Parayar and Kakoos Parayar. But who is this new Nola Parayar ?”. According to my father, this guy whom I saw was just one of the descendants of Dutch Captain Edward Nolan (and probably his men) and the Paraiar women from Neduntivu (Delft). Since the subject of what Captain Nolan did with the Paraiar women was becoming a little too embarrassing for both of us, I decided to gather more information from the Jaffna Public Library (before it was burnt). What I gathered at the Library was quite interesting.

      Captain Edward Nolan was appointed by the Dutch Government in 1811 as Superintendent, Sitting Magistrate and fiscal for the Province of Neduntivu which was renamed Delft by the Dutch. Apart from these duties he was also made responsible for the breeding of horses which were there in abundance. These horses were of fine Arab stock probably introduced there by the Portuguese before the Dutch took over. Nolan had his own bungalow at Delft. Although Nolan was a strict and good administrator he also had this terrible weakness for women. So along with the task of breeding horses he also had a stable of women from the
      local paraiar community and he brought forth a new brood with white skin, grey eyes and auburn hair. This went on for several years
      until the Dutch Governor in Jaffna reported him to Netherlands and requested his withdrawal. He was thereafter sent to Ireland.

      The cross breeds were never accepted as being any other than as a new breed of paraiars – not even by the indigenous paraiars.
      So they interbred among themselves and with the dawn of the next century there appeared a new caste in Jaffna- the Nola Paraiar.
      Many of them migrated to Jaffna and elsewhere from Delft but were not accepted by even the more superior sweeper caste paariars. So they formed their own enclaves in places like Thiddy and found employment in hospitals and other such public institutions as janitors, etc. Their duties included cleaning of toilets at these institutions as well. But they never went about the town collecting night soils like the Sakkiliyar caste. But in Sakkiliyars they found a community more tolerant towards them, intermarried and resided together in common enclaves. The enclave which Ms Pearl Thevanayagam visited at Thiddy behind St. Patrick’s College is one such colony.

      In one of my recent searches I discovered the following in the Journal of the Dutch Burger Union of Ceylon dated July 1934. It is attributed to a J.C.Wolf who apparently had done research on Captain Nolan:-

      “To-day, the name of Nolan survives as a distinctive clan among the people of Delft, many of whom have migrated to the Jaffna Peninsula and elsewhere. A dark-skinned labourer whom I met some years ago at Jaffna, informed me with what appeared to be justifiable pride that he be­longed to the Nolan clan. Others of this numerous clan, with or without the distinctive grey eyes, continue to boast of the Nolan blood which courses in their veins.”

      • 1
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        F A Gnanendran
        Thank you for your essay. I am very impressed that commentators are well informed on studies of caste sytem in srilanka.

        Digressing from the main topic I would like to comment about ‘malayala’ word parai (verb) used in tamil. Is it confined to islands of jaffna ?
        Thank you

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          Ken Robert
          Yes. The usage of the Malayala word para as a verb to mean ‘say’ or ‘tell’ is confined to the Jaffna peninsula and Mannar only. I have never heard it being used in Batticola or Trinco and never by the Tamils in Tamilnadu. Once again, as I stated in my main essay, it is only the older folks mostly in villages who use this term.

      • 1
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        Dear Mr. Gnanedran,

        While perusing books on Dutch Period I came across a word “Tuspases” in a book authored by Paul E Peris. He had defined it as “Dutch descendant”. I am still trying to find whether the word “thuppahi” has been derived from this. There are some people in Galle with the surname “Salpadoru Thuppahige” and I wonder whether they were identified as Dutch descendants.

        • 0
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          Could that have been Tuppaki[Tamil]= Gun, like in the name Kodituwakku.
          —————

          Moreover, Mr.Tuppahi’s Blog may give some interesting points within a sensible argument, please read the following link [if CT don’t remove it].

          http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/why-thuppahi/

        • 1
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          Thilina Kirigoda

          Sir,
          Since I am not familiar with the word and have not read the book authored by Paul Peries, I must admit my ignorance and adhere strictly to the advice of Apelles

          “ne supra crepidam sutor iudicaret (a shoemaker should not
          judge above the sandal)”

          However, I recommend that you open this link. You are bound to find the answers for your questions

          http://thuppahi.wordpress.com/why-thuppahi/

          • 0
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            A shoemaker always judges what is below his lindles.

      • 0
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        Thanks F.A.!

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        ‘Sakkili’ is a class among lower castes in Southern India. They are originally from the South Indian state of Andrapradesh and speak Telugu. These people are not Tamils but the Sinhalese called them Andara Demala meaning Andra Tamils. They spoke Telugu, it sounds like Tamil but people cannot understand it. That’s why people say ‘why are you talking andara demala?’. The British brought them from South India and settled in major cities as sanitary laborers. It is an occupation, therefore it is unethical to use this word to insult people.

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        [Edited out] We are sorry, the comment language is English – CT

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        [Edited out] We are sorry, the comment language is English – CT

    • 0
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      Father of ‘Para Demala’

      Uncle of ‘Para Demala’

      Are some insulting names for Chingalams.

    • 0
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      Bedrock Barney

      “Is it correct to refer a SL Tamil or Singhalese born overseas as a Para Demala or Para Sinhalaya?”

      As long as they are not born and lived in this Pariah state no need for you to identify them by Para.

      However, given the history of Tamil/Sinhala stupidity no doubt that the parents definitely would have already passed on their culture to their descendants. Before the children step on islands soil, they would have learned all the intricate race/class/caste differences and how each category of people should be treated.

      Para would be an offensive word to them because they would have learned from their family . Don’t even try it.

  • 1
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    Agnes T should have interviewed the ‘conservancy labourers’ of urban councils,municipalities and state institutions like hospitals, from independence onwards.
    She will find that these were uneducated men who could not obtain any other employment and thus opted for the job because there was no competition for same, and the pay was a little better,than that of ‘ordinary labourers’.
    There were tamils and singhalese among them.

    Drummers at funerals,ceremonies etc. who were called ‘parayar’in the tamil community,never opted for the job.

    “Parangi” – not ‘farangi’ – was the term used for englishmen who ran India under the british raj.

  • 0
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    Please learn a little bit of Old Tamil, sanskrit and pali and then you would re-write what you have written.

    • 0
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      Brahmi, Pali & Sanskrit were just scripts, they had loaned most of their words loaned from Tamil, Maitly, Brahui & Malto. These 3 scripts has only produced handful of words probably derived from sediments of Prakrit & Apabrahmsa. It is much visible from the word formation like_ all words starting with Pra, Swa, Sna etc. are words formulated artificially added to the dictionary as and when needed by the scribes of those times.

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        Brahmi is a script. Sanskrit, Parkrit are languages, and Tamil emerged from what Iravathu Mahadevan calls “Tamil Prakrit” roughly around the Cankam period, say, at most not older than 1st or 2nd century BC, although Mahadevan gives a later date for tamil proper. Tamil prakrit was written in tamil Brahmi, whule sinhala prakrit was written in sinhala Brahmi. Both these are closely derived from Asokan Brahmi script.

        The authors attempt to explain “para” in terms of the drummer is like putting the cart before the horse. She should read what Michael Roberts had written and it is a much better technically correct analysis. Also the two comments there are very good.

        The word Parai came from the older Sanskrit and Prakrit word Bera where the letter B gets replaced by P as is well known Dravidian words that came from Tamil Prakrit. Even the Sinhalese have Bera (closer to the Sanskrit) and beravaaya for the drummer, corresponding to the Tamil Paraiyar, a low caste. One can look at the Vedic literature and conclude that with the rise of sanskritization of Hindu rituals, and the rise of Saivism over more animistic forms of Hinduism, the sanskrit/prakrit was taken over to refer to drums and drummers. The kettle drum in particular have nearly identical names in Sanskrit and tamil.

        Basically, as we see from all the comments, the authro had not even bothered to do a minimal etymological search.

        • 0
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          Sanskrit and Prakrit are never constitute to be well grown languages but inseminated intelligent junk which was artificially formulated by Linguistic elites and met a natural death like Latin and Esperanto as the commons never bothered to use them colloquially .

    • 0
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      Kautilya

      “Please learn a little bit of Old Tamil, sanskrit and pali and then you would re-write what you have written.”

      You are on the right track.

      Your Asthana Guru Bandu de Silva (Eccentric Old Chap) could help to run classes which I hope would benefit people who are really into learning.

      • 0
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        What does that AssThana mean?

        • 0
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          Totsky

          “Ass Thana”

          Where donkeys are kept, perhaps your homestead.

          Asthana – meaning belonging to court.

          Asthana Guru – One who teaches or advises the king and his brats.

          Asthana Kavi – Court poet

  • 0
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    Bedbarney blah – has missed the point again.

    • 0
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      Hannah, how are you? You went missing there for awhile. See the lengths I go to get a reaction from you? It is sign of true affection.

      • 0
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        Whats with that reaction into an affection, mmm erection?

  • 0
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    You say, “Parayar had to settle for the job of collecting and disposing of human waste.”
    …very similar to the job that Rajpal, Malinda, Jim Soft in the head, Leela, T. Sumanasekara and countless others are doing noh? :D

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      In return they produce fat old potatoes.

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      I think I have to Agree with you,

      Better to put Some names at the first line, Like Kudu Dumiya, Kudu Mervin, Bandula J, Malaka, Yalpanam Hathuru Singho like some more to follow ,As they all are collecting and disposing of Night soil of Jarapassa Clan. .

  • 0
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    The word ‘paradessi’ connotes a foreigner and I believe it’s origin is Sanskrit and nothing to do with Portuguese.
    But in the term ‘parademala’, it is obvious it was used in a demeaning sense.

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      The mother of all abstracts of the word ‘Para’ is from the word ‘Paarei’ = Rock. Para=to fly, Para=Speak, Para=Outside, Para=The First, Para=Ever, Para=Injury, Para=See; are just words derived from the word Paarei. Why, according Tamil belief the lingam takes the principal place of all lives on this planet. So, in modern malayalam etymology too, the word (“Paara” weikunnathu)(Paarei/T[Rock]), is used to mean ‘to slander’/’backbite’.

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      The word is derived from the Filipino “Pare” which means_ confessor, friend, priest, divine etc.

      So as much of it to mint with meaningful cents:

      Tamil confessor
      Tamil Friend
      Tamil Priest
      Divine Tamil

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    RE:Agnes Tambinayagam’s research: significant portion of her research was conducted during her tenure at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, England in 2003-2007.

    What does”tenure” mean here?Was she teaching there or studyng for her Ph.D there?If so, under whose supervision?

    • 1
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      What is your problem with the meaning of ‘tenure’?

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    If you ask me the whole Country is full of Para Mee Harakas !

    • 1
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      …and Don Quixote will daydream of imply his vigour and valour on the Mee Harakas.

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      The Chief of whom is Medamulana Meeharaka!

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    In addition to the interpretation of ‘Para’ given by the author ‘parayar’ are also hired to broadcast the death of people in villages in the north and east of Sri Lanka by merely beating their para-drums. The word ‘Parai’ simply means speak in Kerala and Sri Lanka. Unfortunately the para-drummer or ‘parayan’ means an outcast among chauvinists of so-called higher casts.

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    It look Word Para In Tamil Is PARAI In other words, It is not a Tamil word. Oara Is simply a HINDI word, probably came from Sanskrit.

    Otherwise, How indians use it to Say FOREIGNERS, FOr example DESI and PARA-DESI.

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      ‘Desi’ means ‘Nimboo’ in Prakrit
      ‘Para’ means ‘Pimple’ in Sakapramba
      ‘Oora’ means ‘Soak’ in Gilprit
      ‘Jim’ means ‘Umbilical Imbecile’ in Gothic

      Do you mean Native Veddas kept their ancestral names such as ‘Ooruvarige’ loaned from Sans-Script, if so does that mean they are a highly educated stock?

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        Rupasinhe

        Rupa ( รูป) means material form

        Sin means transgression

        He means boy or man or (Zheng’s surname He)

        Please put together these words and find your own interpretation or meaning.

        My observation:

        Form of a transgressive boy.

        Or A Chinese admiral who was thought to have transgressed by being an eunuch.

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          Singho’s batton was chopped off the root except the double-globes by the Ming Royal court, although his valour brought him fame and glory like the little old friend RopeSinhgo as described by Nativedo.

          A trilingual stele left by the navigator Zheng He (Sanbao)was discovered on Sri Lanka near Percy’s home in Hambantota in the early 20th Century. He was the great-great-great-grandson of Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar, a Persian who served in the administration of the Mongol Empire and was the Governor of Yunnan during the early Yuan Dynasty.

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            Barnacles

            Have you had the opportunity to read his inscriptions?

            Some say it was written in Tamil too. Do you buy it?

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              Chinese, Persian & Tamil. Zheng He himself was well versed in Farsi and Tamil was a widely spoken language used primarily in trading between the eastern coast of India throughout Sumatra, Malacca Straits, Sulavesi, Mandalay (Burma), Thailand, Laos & Cambodia.

              Roman and Greek traders frequented the ancient Tamil country and Ceylon, securing trade with the seafaring Tamil states of the Pandyan, Chola and Chera dynasties and establishing trading settlements which secured trade with India by the Greco-Roman world since the time of the Ptolemaic dynasty a few decades before the start of the Common Era and remained long after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. As recorded by Strabo, Emperor Augustus of Rome received at Antioch an ambassador from a South Indian King called Pandyan of Dramira. The country of the Pandyas, Pandi Mandala, was described as Pandyan Mediterranea in the Periplus and Modura Regia Pandyan by Ptolemy.

              Evidence from both archaeology and literature speaks of a flourishing foreign trade with the Yavanas (Greeks). The port city of Puhar (Poompuhar) on the east coast and Muziris on the west coast of south India were emporia of foreign trade, where huge ships moored, offloading precious merchandise. This trade started to decline after the 2nd century CE and the direct contact between the Roman empire and the ancient Tamil country was replaced by trade with the Arabs and the Auxumites of East Africa. Internal trade was also brisk and goods were sold and bartered.

              Under Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, the Cholas became dominant in the 10th century and established an empire covering most of South India and Sri Lanka. The empire had strong trading links with Chinese Song Dynasty and Southeast Asia. The Cholas defeated the Eastern Chalukya and expanded their empire to the Ganges. They conquered the coastal areas around the Bay of Bengal and turned it to Chola lake. Rajendra Chola improved his father’s fleet and created the first notable marine of the Indian subcontinent. The Chola navy conquered the Sri Vijaya Empire of Indonesia and the Philippines and secured the sea trade route to China. Cholas exacted tribute from Thailand and the Khmer Kingdom of Cambodia. The power of the Cholas declined around the 13th century and the Pandyan Empire enjoyed a brief period of resurgence thereafter during the rule of Sundara Pandya. Lately the Pandyan Empire was threatened by the constant Islamic invasions of South India. In the early 14th Century, Madurai, the capital of Pandyans was conquered by Jalaluddin Ahsan Khan establishing of an independent Madurai Sultanate.

              —————

              In Quanzhou the Chedian shrine is just one of what historians believe may have been a network of more than a dozen Hindu temples or shrines, including two grand big temples, built in Quanzhou and surrounding villages by a community of Tamil traders who lived here during the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties.

              At the time, this port city was among the busiest in the world and was a thriving centre of regional maritime commerce.

              The history of Quanzhou’s temples and Tamil links was largely forgotten until the 1930s, when dozens of stones showing perfectly rendered images of the god Narasimha — the man-lion avatar of Vishnu — were unearthed by a Quanzhou archaeologist Wu Wenliang. Elephant statues and images narrating mythological stories related to Vishnu and Shiva were also found, bearing a style and pattern that was almost identical to what was evident in the temples of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh from a similar period.

              —————–

              Some Tamil inscription was found in China about 500 miles north of Canton, in a place called Chuan Chou. This is a port city. It was an important port city in the ancient times.

              Normally, the Tamils used to sail to Ta Kua Pa in the west coast of Thailand. Then they would take an overland journey across the Isthmus of Kra to other ports like Nakon SiTammarat or Songkla. These ports were on the east coast of Thailand. From there they sailed on to one of the ports of present day Vietnam and sailed northwards to Canton.

              While a straight voyage would be a longer distance which would be across the Bay of Bengal, Straits of Malacca, Gulf of Siam and South China Sea while sailing around the Malay Peninsula. This leap increased their journey by more than a thousand miles and took several more months.

              Apart from Canton, the Tamils established their own colonies in other parts of China. The merchant guilds like ‘Thisai Aayiraththu AinooRuvar’ was very active around this part of the world.

              There was a Sivan Temple in Chuan Chou. In that temple, an image of Siva was consecrated under the ‘Firman’ – royal orders of ‘Sekasai Khan'(Kublai Sekcen Khan).

              The Sivan Temple was known as ThiruKathaleesvaram and the Lord of the temple was known as ThiruKathaleesvaram udaiya Naayanaar.
              The person who executed the order was Thava Chakravarththikal Sampandha Perumal. It was erected on the Chithra Paurnami day of Saka Era 1203 – 1281 AD.

              —————–

              From 1405 to 1433, during Chinese Ming Dynasty, Zheng He traveled to more than 30 countries in Asia and Africa, traveling more than 100,000 kilometers.

              At its peak, his fleet comprised more than 300 ships manned by about 27,000 sailors, a number unrivaled in the world at that time. There would have been a handsome number of Tamil speaking sailors in his service. After all, it only takes a single Tamil, a Chinese, a Persian to inscribe on a stale.

              [The indigenous Veddhas of Sri Lanka are ethinically related to tribal people of South India. Settlements of people culturally similar to those of present-day Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu in modern India were excavated at megalithic burial sites at Pomparippu on the west coast and in Kathiraveli on the east coast of the island, villages established between the 5th century BC and 2nd century AD. The Sri Lankan Tamils are Tamil dialect speaking people who are native to the island of Sri Lanka and descendants of indigenous peoples such as the Naga people of Nainativu, who were known to be the bloody relatives of Native Veddah].

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    word “para demala” means tamil foreigner much as “paradeshi” means “of foreign origin”
    Word “Parangi” used to describe portuguese must have come from india to SL just as Portuguese came first to India and then to SL. In Hindi, “parangi” stands for papaw – the pale pinkish skin colour would have been the reason.

    Why is such a big issue being made of this word. We have so many tamils living with sinhalese – they are not refered to as Para-Demala’s in general?

    Verbal abuse people may resort to at a time they lose control of themselves cannot and mustn’t be generalised to represent a general attitude of people.
    We have lived together for centuries- I do truly beleive the reason that led to this 30 yrs mad war was nothing more than narrow minded politics with hidden personal interests and never any distrust or non-tolerence between ethnic groups.

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      @ citizen silva
      Why is it that we regularly hear Sinhala Buddhists talk about “anya jaathikayan” and “anya aagamikayan” when they talk about Tamils, Muslims, Malays, Christians, Burghers etc?
      If you listen to political talk shows on radio and tv, you will hear these terms used especially by Buddhist monks.
      Are there two kinds of Sri Lankans in this country? The Sinhala Buddhists who are the real inheritors of the land and the non Sinhala and non Buddhists who are second class citizens maybe? :O

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        “Anya Aagimikayin” litterally means “followers of other religions”
        It is not derogatory like the words “heathen”, “heretic”, “blasphemist”, “infidel”, “idolater”.
        The closest word in Sinhala to these words is “mithya dushtika” which denotes a follower of “false beliefs”.

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    Beware meddling in piles of sh..! It is important to note that this type of ‘jargon’ is taboo among Sinhala speaking Sinhalese, though it appears not so among the segments we call ‘Thuppai’.

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      Mr.Lunatic: Does ‘Thuppai’ mean Tamil speaking Sinhalese?

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    Para Demala is definitely a derogatory word in a xenophobic sense. Para-Demala , Para-Sudda, Para-balla litterally means Tamil-foreigner or European-foreigner or Foreign Dog but conveys a much stronger meanign implying dislike for the person than just “foreigner” in English. The closest word in English is perhaps “Johnny Foreigner”.

    When a Tamil says “He is but a parayah” he means the person is of lowly birth of the untouchable caste.

    The Sinhala term “parayah” relates to a disgustingly treachorous person of foreign extract.

    The worst insult in Sinhala upto the 19th century was “Geri” e.g. “Geri Sudda” which was reserved for someone who eats beef.

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      @ dingiri
      If a “Geri Suddha” is a person who eats beef, what would you call a Sinhalese who does not eat beef but eats fish, chicken, wattalappam, ice cream and cake which has eggs…is against cattle slaughter and crys buckets of tears when news of such slaughter reaches his/her ears but doesnt say a single word when thousands of human beings were humanitarianly slaughtered during the war?
      Could you call him/her a “Bloody Sinhala Hypocrite?” :-) :-)

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        Percy,

        like “Veg” and “Non-Veg” on hotel menus you could call them “Geri” and “Non-Geri”. Of course, as you say they could also be “Bloody Sinhala Hypocrites”

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          Jerry or Tom & Jerry

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        They belong to the Angulimala tribe. Kill & Sil.

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      What,If somebody says That,
      As per a vvip’s Deeds, what he is doing and done,
      Blasting To his face,
      “You PARA JARAPASSA” . or

      “It is you, that should be worried, Para Minister”.

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    seriously a poor article with NO research at all

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      Never mind, just have fun. If Native Veddah’s contributions come along it would be an added incentive to the author.

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    Lets stop using these words like Para Demalaya. After all Tamils are aliens to SL but no need to insult them this way. It is ugly on the person using such terms.

    Para Demala!

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      Hey Fathima not just Tamils but your namesake and the sinhalese too are aliens,if not Vijayas arrival here is a lie neda machan

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      Fathima Fukushima

      “After all Tamils are aliens to SL but no need to insult them this way.”

      I agree with you on this point.

      It does not mean we should insult their Sinhala brethren just because their ancesters too came from across the Palk strait by Kallathonies.

      Though I am bit thick I would would not use their caste to insult them and there is indeed no need, for both people are a living lie and their culture, history and the religion they adhere to are the first and main source of insult.

      I insult them for their stupidity because they deserve it on regular basis.

      There is no opt out clause applicable here for you to distance yourself from both people.

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    I believe that commentator Gnanendran should have submitted his essay for publication as it seems to have much more substance than the brief of the main writer above.

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      Agreed

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      Lasantha,
      I fully agree with you. The commentator Gnanendran has not only given a comprehensive analysis of the word, but also delved into its etymology. The analysis also relates to the ‘caste’ aspects of the word that I was ignorant of, until I read his comments about the origin of the castes and subcastes associated with this word.

      I wonder whether Mr. Gnanendran is a social historian as he is very knowledgeable about the social interactions of the various castes in the Jaffna peninsula and the islands around the north. This is excellent work, well researched and written in a pleasant narrative style quite unlike some academic work that I have read.

      His analysis supersedes the analysis of the academics Michael Roberts and Agnes Thambynayagam as he seems to be conversant with both Tamil and Sinhala and hence can correlate his findings with authority quite unlike the other two academics that seem to be monolingual in relation to either Sinhala or Tamil only.

      Unfortunately such superior academic work seems too intelligible for some of the other commentators here(you know who you are) who are utilising these pearls of wisdom to castigate the leaders of Sri Lanka when there is absolutely no association or link in the analysis to current day politicians. The adage ‘casting pearls before swine’ comes to mind.

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    Para- desi, a pejorative Tamil term meaning a foreigner or wastrel, deals with the story of enslaved tea plantation workers in pre-independent India

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      Paradesi means the swinging limesfruits in the front to ward off evil eyes.

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    Exactly where are we now ?
    and whom do we call what?

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      You got a sun-stroke?

      Imagine that now you vent through a pipe, and blowing through it. And again peep through it. Do you see anything, something unclear. That’s whats called Now you See, Now you Don’t.

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    mmm- Barnie Hi!

    Enjoying the ‘come back’ that made me think ‘how did I miss these folks’!.
    Good to know you have been looking for me.!

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