Memories of the Wanni; the Vaddas and the Vanniyas

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Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 08 December 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli I got a query from Tissa Devendra regarding my previous piece, “Memories of the Vanni, Vaddas and Vanniyas”. “Do you mean to say that the Vanni was peopled by a slow influx of Vanniyar caste infiltrators from South India?” he asked. I told him that it’s

Memories of the Wanni; the Vaddas and the Vanniyas

ravings of a strange woman
Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 24 November 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli The Vaddas are of course carriers of the name “wanniyalettho”, the present Vadi chieftain being “Uruwarige Wanniyalettho”.  I will call him Jayaseelan because I can’t recall his name (Preposterous but bear with me). Jayaseelan is a Tamil speaking Vadda who

Aleas, Kuruwe Vidanes and the Vanniyalettho. The secret history of Jaffna and the Vanni

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Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 10 November 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli The Vanni was the source of elephants to the Kingdom of Jaffna and elephants were Crown Property. By issuing a proclamation dated Lisbon, 3rd Jan., 1612, the King of Portugal had let the natives know that he had cottoned on to that and no one therefore should

Deciphering the Vanniyas; a people out of the box

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Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 13 October 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli A Tank in the Wanni During the twilight of the Vanniyas, that is, the latter half of the 19th century, the last remaining representatives of that identity were found eking out a living in several villages of Nuvarakalaviya (North Central province) and

Into the Vanni and Jaffna of the 17th Century

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Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 29 September 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli His name was Knox. Robert Knox. English. He was a prisoner in Lanka from 1660 to 1680. Finally he escaped from Kandy or more specifically from Rajasinha II, who claimed to be the sovereign overlord of the whole of Lanka and its people. The world-view

A historian in focus- The Dark Side of S Pathmanathan

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Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 08 September 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli Cognitive problems and knowledge deficiencies of S. Pathmanathan, Professor Emeritus of History? Yes. First, a caveat. Although there is a school of thought that Sri Lanka shows a lack of discernment in the making of her professors emeritus (“X was made a

No, you can’t have jam yet Professor Sitrampalam!

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Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 18 August 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli Professor S.K Sitrampalam is the former professor of history in the University of Jaffna, a vice president of ITAK (euphemistically known as the Federal Party) and a specialist in South Asian history and Archaeology. He can be relied on… To take your breath

What Paranavitana said to McGilvray; “Do your homework son”

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Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 04 August 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli “There are Brahmi inscriptions at Jailani dating to the second century BC, but they appear to assert territorial claims by local political chieftains. According to Aboosally (2002: 62-3) there is no evidence that the site was ever dedicated to the Buddhist

Dennis McGilvray In the cozy darkness of a velvet blindfold

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Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 21 July 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli Stupidity is no stranger to academia. It lurks behind reputed and respected scholarly facades and waits for the owner of the façade to lower his or her guard. Then it comes out, so brazenly and without apology that one is struck speechless. Recently I had occasion

Kuragala Lessons 2 Using PR to obliterate heritage

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Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 02 June 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli I surmise that Dennis McGilvray came into the orbit of the Aboosally family through his researches into the matrilineality of the Tamil and Muslim communities of the east coast of Sri Lanka. M.L.M Aboosally’s wife came from the matrilineal east coast town of

Kuragala Lessons – Fighting with honour for a stake in a layered heritage

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Published in my column in The Nation on Sunday, 26 May, 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli In Archaeology there is a novel concept called “Public Participatory Interactive multi cultural Museum and Site Presentation” applicable to sites with multiple heritages. This involves being inclusive of all available heritage components in presenting the

The BBS that my mother likes

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Published in my column in The Nation on May 05, 2013 and in Colombo Telegraph on the same date. By Darshanie Ratnawalli I am the legitimate issue of a woman who unabashedly claims to admire the Bodu Bala Sena. This affords me a critical perspective into the issue, without which everyone is floundering like headless chickens. There may be other people, whose mothers etc. harbor soft spots

A historian who liked admiration too much

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Published in my column in The Nation on April 28, 2013  By Darshanie Ratnawalli Leslie Gunawardana Leslie (R A L H) Gunawardana, (not to be confused with Vivien’s husband, Leslie Goonewardena) was a historian specializing in the ancient period (500 BC to 1232 AD) of Sri Lankan history. He was a historical revisionist who aspired for admiration from a certain school and got it. His 1979 essay

Getting in touch with our inner South Indian

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Published in my column in The Nation on March 24, 2013  By Darshanie Ratnawalli We have a bit of a situation over the South Indian connection with the dawn of civilization in Lanka. The Mahavansa traces the civilization impulse to North India. While the historical revisionist school wants us to stop being fixated with this hackneyed North Indian and get in touch with our inner South Indian (

Dawn of civilization in an island called Lanka

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Published in my column in The Nation on March 03, 2013  By Darshanie Ratnawalli Waiting for Vijaya “Given that possession of a historical homeland helps solidify nationalism, it is hardly surprising that both the Sinhalese and the Tamils claim to be the island’s original settlers. The Sinhalese claim that their Aryan North Indian ancestors were the first settlers to reach Sri Lanka’s shores

Tamil Brahmi and Sinhala Brahmi made easy

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Published in my column in The Nation on February 17, 2013  By Darshanie Ratnawalli                         The Elara Vs Dutugemunu as depicted on a mural from Dambulla Today the vast majority of common people in Sri Lanka can distinguish between a language and its script. They may not be able to articulate what the difference is, but instinctively they know. I surmise that this

An inexact man in an inexact science

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Published in my column in The Nation on February 10, 2013  By Darshanie Ratnawalli                         Taking a tracing “When it comes to ancient history, historical linguistics and such matters, surprisingly little is known in any tangible sense although much is claimed by the practitioners of such studies. ... We ...

How to describe Chandre Dharmawardana?

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A response to ‘What to do with Dharshanie Ratnawalli?’ Published in my column in The Nation on January 27, 2013  By Darshanie Ratnawalli I view with extreme concern Dr. Dharmawardana’s efforts to extricate himself from a past indiscretion. This was committed when he confided to Dr. Michael Roberts in an email note that the inscriptions of Lanka in the second century B.C. are really not

Gordon Weiss and the dynamics of redemption.

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Published in my column in The Nation on January 13, 2013  By Darshanie Ratnawalli Not for personal gain is this exercise of mine but in pursuit of redemption. Redemption is a curious thing. To counter every wrong pattern that gets drawn on the canvas of existence, it draws some other pattern, next to which the wrong pattern looks so godawful and out of place that it soon gets erased by the

What to do about Dr. Chandre Dharmawardana?

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Published in my column in The Nation on December 23, 2012  By Darshanie Ratnawalli I am in a moral quandary over what to do about Chandre Dharmawardana. Should I look askance at this professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Montreal, shuddering with horrified wonder as if he is a mutant worm or should I use the situation to cultivate equanimity? The arguments for both courses