Friday, June 27, 2014

Deciphering the Vanniyas; a people out of the box

Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 13 October 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date.

By Darshanie Ratnawalli
A Tank in the Wanni

During the twilight of the Vanniyas, that is, the latter half of the 19th century, the last remaining representatives of that identity were found eking out a living in several villages of Nuvarakalaviya (North Central province) and Northern province (mainly around Vavuniya in Kurunthankulam and Nochcikulam or Chinna Cheddikulam). They were living, breathing fossils of a species of people that have entered case studies of modern historiography as exemplifiers of the incorporating drives of the pre-modern Lankan state. “Thus, in Sinhale on the one hand there existed an incorporative tolerance that a) permitted immigrant bodies to settle in the Vanni and the Eastern Province…”-(Michael Roberts, “Prejudice and Hate in Pluralist Settings: The Kingdom of Kandy”, 2000).

“The case presents a fascinating study of a people originating from different immigrant cultures who were compelled by circumstances and the office and responsibilities they accepted, to assimilate into another culture.”- (D. G. B de Silva, “New Light On Vanniyas And Their Chieftaincies Based On Folk Historical Tradition As Found In Palm-Leaf Mss. In The Hugh Nevill Collection[i]”-Full Text)

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