Vedda Village in Dambana
Vedda Village in Dambana can be inscribed as one of the most iconic destinations in the Mahiyanganaya and the country itself. The pride of Sri Lankan Heritage, the indigenous tribe of Veddhas, comes from a much older past than prince Vijaya’s landing in the 5th century BC. Archaeological proof intimate that modern Veddha’s Neolithic ancestors inhabited this island as far back as 18,000 BC. On the contrary to popular belief, it is alleged that Veddhas are the origin of the Sinhala race as their language is an ancient dialect of the Sinhala language. Today, the remaining Veddha population is limited to the Dambana area, close to Maduru Oya sanctuary.
The tribe does not spectacle much change in their lifestyle from the Stone Age to modern times. The anthropologist Verrier Elwin (1902-1964) defines the Veddha community in Sri Lanka as a forest dweller that ceased to exist as a separate community by hunting, gathering, cultivating and harvesting. He also mentions that it is miraculous that in a world that evolves daily, buddhas still struggle to protect their inheritance. However, today, the Veddha’s are more modernized as far as clothes and commerce are concerned. Veddha’s further collect bee’s honey and exchange it with the locals for axe blades and clothing. The government has allowed the natives to hunt legally to sustain themselves within particular areas in Dambana. Most utmost of the meat the forest Vedda eat is venison or anything extra they can pursue. They use a bow and arrow for the quick and silent execution of the hunt.
The perfect way to observe Veddha is to organize a camp close to or within the reservation of their last remaining village in Dambana. The Veddha’s will be more than happy to show you their ways of existing, including an axe hanging from their arms and a bow slung behind them, which will give you the opinion that nothing much has transformed since the dawn of time for these proud warriors of the forest.
In the past, the Veddas dwelled in caves and sought refuge in rock shelters, which served as their original homes. These natural abodes not only provided them shelter but also witnessed the creation of intricate cave paintings. The women of the tribe would paint these captivating images while patiently awaiting the return of their men from the hunt. These cave paintings stand as testaments to the Veddas' artistic expressions and serve as a glimpse into their lives of long ago.
For those fortunate enough to join the Veddas of Sri Lanka in their village, a captivating journey into their culture awaits. Visitors are offered a rare opportunity to experience the Vedda way of life, which has remained relatively untarnished by modern technology and commercialization. The Veddas staunchly hold onto their traditions, and guests have the privilege of meeting Chief Uruwarige Wanniyalatto, the esteemed leader of the Vedda community. According to the tribe's customs, participating in communal activities necessitates the chief's permission. Once granted, visitors can closely observe the Vedda culture and even partake in selected activities, enabling a truly immersive experience.
One of the significant traditional customs practiced by the Veddas is a dance known as "Kiri Koraha." This mesmerizing dance serves as a means of invoking blessings from the gods and holds great importance within their culture. Alongside this enchanting dance, the Veddas engage in various other traditional activities that form an integral part of their lives. However, the primary activity that remains central to their culture is hunting—a skill they have honed for generations.
In conclusion, the Vedda community faces an uphill battle in preserving their culture and way of life. Despite the challenges they encounter, their commitment to maintaining their traditions remains unwavering. Dambana Vedda village provides a unique glimpse into their world, allowing visitors to appreciate and learn from their rich heritage. It is crucial to recognize the importance of preserving the Vedda culture as it offers a glimpse into the roots of humanity's past.
1. How can I visit Dambana Vedda village? To visit Dambana Vedda village, you can make arrangements through authorized tour operators or directly contact the village administration for guidance and assistance.
2. Is the Vedda community open to outsiders? Yes, the Vedda community welcomes outsiders who are interested in learning about their culture and way of life. However, it is important to respect their customs, seek permission from Chief Uruwarige Wanniyalatto for participation in communal activities, and follow any guidelines provided.
3. What are some of the other traditional activities practiced by the Veddas? Apart from the famous "Kiri Koraha" dance, the Veddas engage in various activities such as traditional crafts, storytelling, and rituals associated with nature and the gods.
4. Are there any restrictions or guidelines for visitors? Visitors are required to respect the Vedda customs and seek permission from Chief Uruwarige Wanniyalatto for participating in communal activities. It is also important to follow any guidelines provided by the village administration and treat the community and their surroundings with utmost respect.
5. How can I support the preservation of Vedda culture? Supporting the preservation of Vedda culture can be done by spreading awareness, visiting Dambana Vedda village and contributing to the local community, supporting initiatives focused on cultural preservation, and respecting their traditions and way of life.