Dambana


“BEHOLD THE WAY OF THE VEDDAHS”

"I…learned to know and love the Veddahs for simplicity, a special kind of decency among themselves that is harder to find today. As forests receded and vanished to make way for development the shy jungle people were netted into inevitable proximity with the newcomers against all their instincts."
-Christine Wilson, quoted in the preface to her father's book about the Veddah, Wild Ceylon (R.L. Spittle)

Dambana is the home for these people whose predicament is aptly described by Ms. Christine Wilson. Their present situation is even more demanding and arduous. On one hand they are fighting to keep their members from getting commercialized and on the other hand, the authorities blame them for getting commercialized and keep away from looking into their grievances. They are fighting a lone losing battle. In one recent interview the Chief “Uruwarige Wanniyaleththo” said that his greatest fear is that he will not be able to stop the death of the Veddah way of life. Since their livelihood is now changed completely, they are depending more and more on earning money to sustain them.

To observe their way of life and participate in their traditional and cultural activities it is best to spend some pre-arranged time with them on a pre-arranged programme. Camping near the Veddah Village and getting involved with them in these activities would surely be a very important and memorable event in anyone’s life.

One of their traditional forms of invoking the blessings of gods is a famous dance called “Kiri Koraha”. There are few other traditional activities that are part of their lives. The main activity is hunting.

Dambana Veddah Village -

Activities at the Veddah Village.

  • Meet the Chief – Wanniyaleththo at the Veddah Village
  • Although we may not be able to go on an actual hunting trip with them, they will not hesitate to depict to us the pros and cons of hunting and enact how they set about it.
  • Watching them use their traditional bow & arrow- made out of natural material- too would be another interesting activity.
  • In addition to hunting, another important way of catching prey is by setting traps. Out of many such traps, “Habaka” is a simple form used to catch small animals, which they will demonstrate in a very practical way.
  • Another interesting activity to witness would the extracting honey from a honeycomb from a tree. This activity, which could be very dangerous to a layman, is handled with ease by these men.
  • Before leaving the Veddah Village a Traditional Veddah dance will be performed.

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Dambana