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Home > Discovery Top Attractions > Vaddha- indigenous People of Sri Lanka

Vaddha- indigenous People of Sri Lanka

Arugam BaySri Lanka's indigenous inhabitants, the Vaddha or Wanniya-laeto ('forest-dwellers') as they call themselves, preserve a direct line of descent from the island's original Neolithic community dating from at least 16,000 BC and probably far earlier according to current scientific opinion. Even today, the surviving Vaddha community retains much of its own distinctive cyclic worldview, prehistoric cultural memory, and time-tested knowledge of their semi-evergreen dry monsoon forest habitat that has enabled their ancestor-revering culture to meet the diverse challenges to their collective identity and survival. With the impending extinction of Vaddha culture, however, Sri Lanka and the world stand to lose a rich body of indigenous lore and living ecological wisdom that is urgently needed for the sustainable future of the rest of mankind.

Historically, for the past twenty-five centuries or more Sri Lanka's indigenous community has been buffeted by successive waves of immigration and colonization that began with the arrival of the Sinhalese from North India in the 5th century BC.

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Consequently, the Vaddhas have repeatedly been forced to choose between two alternative survival strategies: either to be assimilated into other cultures or to retreat ever further into a shrinking forest habitat. In the course of history, uncounted thousands of these original inhabitants of the wanni (dry monsoon forest) have been more or less absorbed into mainstream Sinhala society (as in the North Central and Uva provinces) or Tamil society (as on the East Coast). Today only a few remaining Vaddhas still manage to preserve their cultural identity and traditional lifestyle despite relentless pressure from the surrounding dominant communities.

Today ,total population of pure veddaha is limited to a small member (about 2000) and this significant community settlement are scattered in Uve, Sabaragamuva, North- central and Eastern provinces. However, only Dambana in Mahiyangana has preserved the pure culture there inhabitants which is about six miles from Mahiyangana.  

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