The Global Legacy
Edited By Michael Adrian Peters and Tina Besley
Chapter Nineteen: The Changing Life Patterns of the Veddhas of Sri Lanka: Translocation from a Forest Environment to an Agricultural Settlement
The Changing Life Patterns of the Veddhas of Sri Lanka: Translocation from a Forest Environment to an Agricultural Settlement
ASOKA JAYASENA AND SUSILA KUMARI EMBEKKE
The accelerated Mahaweli Development Scheme was undertaken by the government of Sri Lanka in 1983. Under this scheme, several Veddha families were induced by the government of Sri Lanka to abandon their traditional forest homelands in the Dambana region and to move into newly created colonization scheme in Zone C of the Accelerated Mahaweli Development Scheme (AMDS). This chapter focuses on the life patterns of the Veddha families since their translocation from their forest environment to an agricultural settlement.
Veddhas and Theories About Their Origin
Veddhas refer to themselves as wanniyalaiatto, meaning “forest dwellers.” They are an indigenous group of people living in Sri Lanka. They have lived in Sri Lanka for thousands of years as a group, preserving their ethnic identity. Seligmann (1911) has described the Veddhas as “one of the most primitive” racial groups. It is believed that the Veddhas have descended from the union of Prince Vijaya, ← 285 | 286 → considered as the founding father of the Sinhala nation, with Kuveni, the Yakka princess who befriended him and helped him to vanquish the Yakka clan, who are still considered to be the earliest inhabitants of Sri Lanka. The island’s chronicle Mahavansa, written in the 6th century A.D., narrates the story of Vijaya, who arrived from India with five...
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