Sri Lanka’s original people the Wanniyalaeto or Veddas
Guardians of the Red Earth
The Danigala Veddas were one of the groups who escaped into the caves of the jungle. In the 1940s, the government removed them from the Danigala caves and mandated that they live in homes in the forest made with mud walls and thatched roofs. With little option, the Veddas complied and have lived in these designated areas for over fifty years.
The Wanniya-Laetto (Veddahs) of Sri Lanka
To add security to the food supply, most Wanniya-laeto clear a piece of land close to the house to do swidden cultivation. The crops are maize and kurakkan millet which is their staple food.
Cultural Heritage of Sri Lanka: The Wanniyaletto
If the indigenous Vedda (Vanniyaletto) of Sri Lanka are the heirs of an existence dating back to the Mesolithic of Southern Asia, then this community represents a sphere of cultural expression that requires world attention in conserving a folk diversity that is rapidly disappearing in this century.
The Curse of Kuveni
The Vedda are facing the ‘final solution’ or total obliteration though a process of assimilation as peripheral elements of the cosmopolitan civilization. The present phase of modernization threatening the Vedda is nothing but the long arm of the ‘development strategy’.
Early Man and the Rise of Civilisation in Sri Lanka: Archaeological Evidence
By about 125,000 BP it is certain that there were prehistoric settlements in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka was, more often than not, linked to southern India by a land bridge during this period. It is estimated that the sea level would have dropped sufficiently for creating such a connection on at least 17 occasions within the last 700,000 years.
East Coast Veddas
“The Coast Vaeddas do not know when they came or how they came, but they say that long ago their ancestors came from the Gala, far beyond the hills to the west. They also sometimes say they came from Kukulu-gammaeda and spread out along the Coast.”
The Veddahs of Ceylon
Veddahs, or “Wild Men” of Ceylon, one of the lowest types of the human race. Article and engraving from The Graphic of June 14, 1884. “This strange and primitive race is generally considered to be the remnant of the aborigines of Ceylon, and its members are but a degree removed from wild beasts.”
Robert Knox’s 1681 account of the Veddas
To Robert Knox, who wrote in 1681 after a captivity in Ceylon lasting twenty years, belongs the credit of having first accurately described the Veddas.
Sri Lanka’s Indigenous Wanniya-laeto: A Case History
Sri Lanka’s indigenous inhabitants, the Veddas 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 14,000 BC and probably far earlier according to current scientific opinion.
The Wanniya-laeto operate within a radically different conceptual framework from that of the local administrators who wield power over Wanniyalaeto land and interests. For instance, the Wanniyalaeto do not entertain modern notions of real estate belonging to individuals, but believe that they and their ancestor-spirits belong to the forests of the Wanni which they inhabit and protect.