Prashanth Kuganathan** whose title runs thus: “Social Stratification in Jaffna: A Survey of Recent Research on Caste”
A SYNOPSIS: Since 1983, war has dominated the perception of Sri Lanka. This has affected scholarship on the country, such that the subjects of an overwhelming number of research proposals and publications have been on the war and the prospects and prescriptions for peace. This survey paper is an attempt to locate the system of caste in transition in the Jaffna Peninsula by reviewing recent literature written after the commencement of the war. While detailed ethnographies of caste in Jaffna may have temporarily come to a halt, caste practices have not and remain a salient part of everyday life among the Tamils in Sri Lanka. As the war ended in 2009, it is therefore important that social scientists on Sri Lanka revisit the topic of caste, that is an integral part of not just Tamil culture or society, but being Tamil itself. As the study of caste is dominated by research in India, a microanalysis of Jaffna and Sri Lanka, particularly the nuances of this system in transition due to war and militancy, could contribute to the macro-study of caste at a sub-continental perspective.
Sri Lankan civil war drama lifts joy above traumThis play by the xcreaators of the Helpmann-winning Counting and Cracking shows people living and loving despite danger, but sometimes minimises the horror.
Blindfolded matriarch Gowrie (Anandavalli) and her firebrand daughter Abi (Kalieaswari Srinivasan) in The Jungle and the Sea at Belvoir St theatre in Sydney.Photograph: Sriram Jeyaraman
Ahilan Kadirgamar, in Daily Mirror, 21 November 2022, where the title reads “Hill-country Tamils and Crisis Times” …. with highlighting imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi
When our country collapses before our own eyes with one of the deepest crises in historical memory, from what vantage point should we analyse our predicament? Sri Lanka’s political economy over the last two centuries is anchored in the travails and strivings of Hill Country Tamils. Their sweat and blood, that began with the horrifying journey from South India two centuries ago as indentured labour to work in the coffee and later tea plantations, were central to building the country’s modern economy under British colonialism. However, their position in society, and for that matter even the writing of their history, was marginalised. And despite the great democratic and social welfare advances in Sri Lanka with universal suffrage in 1931 and a powerful legacy of free healthcare and education, the social, economic and political life of the Hill Country Tamil community is characterised by struggle amidst persistent crisis times.
‘Ceylon tea’ gave Sri Lanka the recognition in the world map, but the plantation workers are still languishing in their ages-old abode, known as line rooms and continue to be marginalised in education, community wellbeing and healthcare.
Shehan’s intervention with his prize-winning book at the present juncture is significant. He states the obvious re corruption, cronyism and expresses thumps his bleeding heart for the suffering people of Sri Lanka (and YES, Shehan, do please gift the prize money of 50,000£ to the suffering masses in the island).
Sebastian Rasalingam, reproducing an article presented in 2008 in The Sri Lanka Guardian in October 2008 with this title “An Excellent and Timely Feature on the Tamils” **
Please permit me to make some comments on the recent article on the “Sri Lankan Identity” by R. M. B. Senanayake, continuing a discussion in a previous article by Anne Abeysekera. Both these articles, written by authors who are familiar with the English-educated Sinhalese point of view, deal very inadequately with the issues of Tamil Nationalism in Sri Lanka and in erstwhile Ceylon. In fact, the modern generation, even the Tamils, are on the whole unaware of the true nature of the present conflict and the role of Tamil nationalism. They are misled and mesmerized by simplistic histories concocted by the great political agenda set in motion by the Tamil leaders of the pre-1956 era. In fact, I will outline below how the battlelines were drawn in the Donoughmore days, by G. G. Ponnambalam (GGP) and others who followed.
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.
Sofia Bettiza, in BBC News Item, 19 September 2022, with the title “Sri Lankans freed from Russian brutality in Ukraine” .… the highighting here being impositions by the Editor, Thuppahi
Ukraine’s recapture of the city of Izyum has brought multiple allegations of atrocities under Russian occupation. Among the accounts emerging is that of a group of Sri Lankans held captive for months. Here, they tell their story.
The liberated Sri Lankans with Ukrainian police in Kharkiv
“We thought we would never get out alive,” says Dilujan Paththinajakan. Dilujan was one of seven Sri Lankans captured by Russian forces in May. The group had just set out on a huge walk to safety from their homes in Kupiansk, north-eastern Ukraine, to the relative safety of Kharkiv, some 120km (75 miles) away.
A Notice re a NEW BOOK on the negotiation of language and identity in a Tamil Saivite Temple in Australia byNILRUKSHI PERERA
Diversity is a buzzword of our times and yet the extent of religious diversity in Western societies is generally misconceived. This ground-breaking research draws attention to the journey of one migrant religious institution in an era of religious superdiversity.
Earl Forbes, whose chosen title in The Ceylankan is “Ceylon/Sri Lanka to Australia: Arrivals and Survival”
Ceylonese/Sri Lankans have entered Australia for a variety of reasons during the past one and a half centuries. The far greater number of these arrivals occurred in the second half of the twentieth century and first two decades of the 21st century. Early arrivals go as far back as the last two decades of the nineteenth century.
Figure 3Queensland sugarcane plantation workers. … [placed as frontispiece because of its striking character
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.