The half-million-year-old jungle people of Sri Lanka! Off the beaten track with the Vedda culture

 

Amidst the froth and fandango of the tourist circuit in Sri Lanka it is still possible to get a glimpse of a mysterious past still buried in forest, folklore and mythology.

Here you will find the Vedda, hailed by the Ancient Origins website as the “half-million-year-old jungle people!”

It cites the Mahavansa, the ancient chronicle of the Sinhalese royalty, as noting that “Veddas are descended from Prince Vijaya (6th-5th century BC), the founding father of the Sinhalese nation”.

 

The original language of the Veddas is still used today by communities such as Coast Veddas and Anuradhapura Veddas to communicate while hunting and during religious rituals while chanting.

But Sinhala-speaking Veddas can also be found in the southeastern part of the country, and Tamil speakers in the Eastern Province.

S U Deraniyagalam, the Director-General of Archaeology, in his book Early Man and the Rise of Civilisation in Sri Lanka, writes that “there is secure evidence of settlements in Sri Lanka by 130,000 years ago, probably by 300,000 BP and possibly by 500,000 BP or earlier”.

 

Meanwhile, Frances Schwabenland on the World Documentary Photographer website, writes of meeting “a man living in the midst of a dense jungle and moving silently through the trees with a bow and arrow”.

“Making our way through a dense jungle brought us face to face with a tribe having a BC date of origin and a population that seems to be on the verge of extinction.

“For thousands of years, the Veddas have been hunters and gathers. Their lifestyle has depended upon the natural world of the jungle, all that grows and all that moves there.”

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