Category Archives: caste issues

About the Portuguese Burghers and Kaffirs

Nan, in Island, 4 November 2017  where the title reads as “The Portuguese Burghers and Kaffirs”

Ethnic groups are disappearing and thus the research interest on these endangered human groups, their language and culture. One such research that is on-going is on the Portuguese Burghers by the Universidade de Lisboa with funding from the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme of SOAS, University of London. The International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) which is collaborating with the research, facilitated a discussion on the Sri Lankan Portuguese Burghers and their heritage with those on the research project: Hugo Cordosa, Patricia Costa, Rui Pereira, Mahesha Radakrishna – all of the University of Lisbon; Dinali Fernando of the University of Kelaniya and Earle Barthelot, representative of the Portuguese Burgher Community and former secretary of the Burgher Union of Batticaloa.. This was on Tuesday 31 October.

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Of Bonds and Boundaries via Biographical Moments

Wilfred Jayasuriya

Fortunately the priest was walking by the ward. He wore a black hat like a gentleman of my father’s vintage, when they wore such hats as a style when the British ruled us. He was also quite dark skinned like my father and had well chisselled features, a round chin, a proportionate nose and mouth—what my mother said about my father in spite of him being quite dark skinned that he was a handsome man. And this priest was well dressed in his white cassock and black waist band and he had a cross with Christ tucked in it. “Father,” I asked, “are you a Catholic priest? Can you come and see my friend? He is very ill. In this ward.” I pointed to the interior where the 12 o’ clock crowd had already filled the spaces between the beds.

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Probing Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s Background and Attainments

Darshanie Ratnawalli,  courtesy of the Sunday Island, 27 August 2017, where the title runs Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe –The man Vs the hero”

“Salagama? Certainly not”, Sumangala Thera of the Sugatha-Dakshinaramaya temple in Skelton Road refutes my speculation about Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s caste as authoritatively as only a Buddhist monk hailing from Kanumuldeniya, just two kilometres from Rajapakshe’s original village of Horewala in Walasmulla, and somebody who went to school with him, can. As political issues hotted up and Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe became flavour of the month, the first public reference to Rajapakshe’s caste was made on 13 August by Badulla District MP Dilan Perera, couched as an admonition not to rely on the caste-ridden as well as chauvinistic Joint Opposition which, whichever Rajapaksa it welcomes, will not accept a Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

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Filed under accountability, Buddhism, caste issues, cultural transmission, education, electoral structures, governance, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, performance, politIcal discourse, slanted reportage, social justice, sri lankan society, unusual people

The Karāva People in Fable and Tale

S. N. Arseculeratne

The Karāva people of Ceylon claim to be descended from the Kuru refugees, who scattered after their defeat in the Great War between the Pandavas  and the Kauravas1 or Kurus, related in the Mahabharata. The Kauravas settled in many parts of India, Bengal and in Ceylon. In Ceylon, the recorded descriptions of the Kauravas have been few, but mention has been made from around the 11th century to the 15th century due mainly to the military involvements of the Kauravas (now called the Karavas).

 A flag which belonged to Don Pedro Arsecularatna of Maggona, depicting the arrival of a group of Karāva chiefs and retainers …. The square towards the bottom has the peacock with 3 people on it. (a) King Rajasinghe II; (b) The Dutch ship’s captain [off Negombo]; (c)  Mudaliyar  Arseculeratne of Negombo

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Against The Modernist Grain: Polyandry & Other Traditional Practices that may still persist in Sri Lanka

Asiff Hussein, courtesy of Roar Life, 25 April 2017, where the chosen title is  “Three Strange Sri Lankan Customs And The Stories Behind Them”

Sri Lankans had, and still have, some strange traditions that are thought of as indigenous. However, much of these have their origins in other parts of the world, especially in India, and, to a lesser extent, in the Middle East. Here are three such local beliefs and customs with exotic origins.

Dola-Duka (Pregnancy Craving)

Sri Lankans, and especially the Sinhalese, believe that mothers-to-be experience a longing to eat certain kinds of foods, and that if these cravings are not satisfied, it would harm her health or the child she is carrying. This is known as dola-duka. Continue reading

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Caste in Sinhala Society

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Filed under British colonialism, caste issues, communal relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, gender norms, heritage, historical interpretation, life stories, politIcal discourse, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, working class conditions

Bloody Memories: The JVP Insurrection 1971

Zahrah Imtiaz courtesy of Daily News, 5 April 2017, where the title reads “Sanguinary Memories: JVP Insurgence of 1971”

The decision taken by the nine senior members of the JVP when they met at the Sangaramaya Temple of the Vidyodaya University on April 2, 1971, was to capture State power by attacking all the police stations in the country on the night of April 5, 1971.”– “Rohan Gunaratna: Sri Lanka: A Lost Revolution? The Inside story of the JVP”

 From Prasad Premarathne… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKN82MSCutg

The plan was simple, the orders had come and all they had to do was to execute it. Rohana Wijeweera, the charismatic leader of the JVP was in prison in Jaffna, and via a message sent through Lal Somasiri, he had asked that, “Posters should be published and leaflets distributed calling for his release, and in the case of an attack, 500 comrades should be sent to Jaffna to secure his release.” He had also stated, “If you cannot obtain my release legally, you may create an island-wide struggle throughout the country and then send 500 men”. Continue reading

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