Induction of Tiger recruits into fighter ranks with receipt of the kuppi containing cyanide
Tiger soldiers relaxing in camp with cyanide kuppi around their necks — Pix by Shyam Tekwani
Understanding the role of religion in the Tamil insurgency requires an understanding of Sri Lanka’s cultural mosaic and of the development of modern nationalism before and after independence from British colonial power. Sri Lanka is a geographically small yet culturally rich and complex island, with numerous ethnic, linguistic, religious, and caste subgroups. The majority of the population identify as ethnically Sinhala, and they speak Sinhala, an Indo-European language. The great majority of the Sinhalese are Theravada Buddhists who live mostly in the south and central regions of the island. A small minority of Sinhalese are Catholics, and some also belong to evangelical Christian churches. The largest minority group in Sri Lanka is the Tamils, who speak Tamil (a South Indian Dravidian language) and comprise several subgroups. The largest of these are the so-called Sri Lankan Tamils, who traditionally have lived in the north and east. The so-called Indian Tamils are labor immigrants from India who were brought in by the British to work in the plantation sector in the highlands. The majority of Tamils are Hindus of the Śaiva Siddhanta tradition, but there are also a significant number who are Catholics and a few to smaller Evangelical denominations. The Tamil Muslims identify based on religious belonging, not on a common ethnic identity, and they speak Tamil. Historically, the Muslim communities are scattered throughout the island; they form a stronghold in urban trading centers in the south but are also farmers in the Tamil-majority Eastern Province. Social stratification based on caste and regional identities was strong in precolonial Lanka, and then the colonial classifications of the island’s inhabitants produced new identities with intensified religious and racial signifiers. These were reproduced in the emerging Tamil and Sinhala nationalisms of the late 19th century.
The tale of the lifeworld of Charles Braine (1877-1944) in British Ceylon presented by one of his descendants https://thuppahis.com/2022/09/21/charles-s-braine-a-rajah-of-a-planter-in-british-ceylon/ generated a side-issue: sex and/or marriage between the British personnel managing the tea, rubber and coconut plantations in British Ceylon and the labour force they commanded. The inequalities in power placed unequal sexual advantages for the planter periya dorais …. and illicit children were one outcome in some instances – a process that probably continued into the second third of the 20th century when Sri Lankans of upper-crust status with an educational background in the best local schools began to gain entry to planter-jobs.
Unlike some of his compatriots, the Englishman Charles Braine kept house with his common-law Sinhalese wife, Engracia Nona: together they fostered and educated a lively family of nine children.
Interest in this tale and comments from Joe Paiva and Errol Fernando led me to two topics of some consequence: (A) the presence in the island of an ethnic category identified as “Eurasians” as distinct from the Burghers;** and (B) the endearing and enduring work of an orphanage known as the Evelyn Nursery that had been launched by a British lady with a large heart that was matched by her architectural and organisational skill: Ms Lena Chapman ( ….).
Neloufer De Mel, in History Today, Vol 72/8, September 2022, where the title reads “Sri Lanka’s Deep Wounds” **
On 31 March 2022 a public protest occurred in the vicinity of the home of the Sri Lankan president Gotabhaya Rajapakse. The protest marked frustration at the shortages of essential commodities (gas, medicines, fuel) and the gruelling ten-to-13-hour power cuts imposed by a cash-strapped government with insufficient dollars to pay for imported fuel. The protestors also sought answers as to why certain neighbourhoods (such as Mirihana, where the president lived) continued to enjoy uninterrupted power.
Following the recent publication of the book Volunteers from Ceylon who served in the British and Commonwealth Forces during World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945) …. I asked the assiduous compilers of this work to provide a convenient statistical summary of the number of personnel from Ceylon who decided to serve the British Empire in its hour of need (with all the political and cultural implications of these decisions in my ‘compass’).
So, Thuppahi can now present the statistics courtesy of Kumar Kirinde (ex-Trinity College and SL Air Force).
Risidra Mendisin Ceylon Today, 4 June 2022, where the title runs thus: “The Popham legacy lives on”
Rows of large and valuable trees, lush greenery in abundance, a cool atmosphere, and plenty of interesting things to see are what the iconic Francis Home Popham, (better known as Sam Popham) – the creator of the world-renowned Popham Method in Forest Regeneration, and founder of the Popham Arboretum in Dambulla – left behind when he passed away on 28 May 2022 at an Assisted-Living facility in England.
In presenting an article on Duncan White’s achievement at the World Olympic Games held in London in August 1948, I limited my focus to the 1940s. Sachi Sri Kantha in Japan has often entered comments on Thuppahi items and on this occasion ventured a point-scoring set of remarks on this item. At times these comments have proceeded tangentially to topics straddling the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
A historical vignette: The Colombo Electric Lighting and Tramways Co Ltd was a British company represented in Ceylon by Boustead Brothers. The Tramways were ready for operations by 1899/1900. This company owned and operated the Pettah Power Station at Saunders Place which supplied the 110 volts DC power to propel the trams.
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.