VIDEO: Will be restricted to books and pictures very soon, says Vanniyelaaththo
July 21, 2010 01:38 pm
The indigenous people of Sri Lanka are fast losing their unique identity. Urbanisation is making this process faster. The Veddas as they are normally called do not want changes forcibly thrust on them, said Uruwarige Vanniyelaaththo.
The indigenous people’s leader Vanniyelaaththo was presenting facts regarding his tribe to the National Revival Commission (NRC) at Sausiripaya in Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7, which is compiling information for a report on the current cultural, economic and political implications in the island.
Their natural habitat is fast depleting due to the speedy development while a section of the tribe have already mixed with other communities, thus reducing the numbers, said Vanniyelaaththo. Now the indigenous people of Sri Lanka are being divided, one section preferring the jungles while the other prefers urbanization.
In ancient times their freedom was never restricted. There were only two communities commonly called ‘Vedi vaasi’ and ‘Maha vasi’. They lived amicably since the kings never ventured into their habitat in the name of development. They lived freely in the wilds. The mountains, the nature were all theirs.
But today, their descendants are fast losing all these. We believe that the spirit of our ancestors is in these mountains and wilds which are fast depleting, Vanniyelaaththo added.
To a question by the media as to which specific area the indigenous people were laying claim, the leader said they were not demanding a separate area. All they wanted was to be left alone in the wilds, which is a necessary part of any country’s ecology.
Several persons have even written books about the veddahs of Sri Lanka. But the sad situation was that they had never visited their habitat. Some want to take them around the world. Some want to turn them into a tourist attraction, the tribal leader said.
“We do not believe that our tribe will exist till the end of the world. All we are asking is not to force changes on us in the name of development. If not, in the near future we will be restricted only to books and pictures,” Vanniyelaaththo said.