ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s indigenous Veddah tribe has halted domestic tourists from visiting their village as the latest Coronavirus outbreak spread across the country infecting over 4,000 persons and claiming at least two lives.
“Rutter podge-jer wutterthanaymer may ledder podge-jer mung-gutch-cher vellar,” Veddah leader Uruwarige Wanniela Attho told reporters in footage broadcast over Sri Lanka’s privately-run Swarnavahini Television, referring to the spread of Covid-19.
Domestic as well as international tourism is a source of income to the group in Dambana Sri Lanka.
International tourism had already hit Sri Lanka’s economy but domestic tourism revived as Coronavirus was controlled up to September and people who usually went abroad started travelling within the country.
All over the world Covid-19 has devasted tourism, from Paris to Bali.
Veddahs of Dambana have a hunter-gatherer (now supplemented with agriculture and tourism), ancestor worshipping (nae yakku) culture which was gradually displaced or assimilated by colonists from mainland India.
Most other Veddah groups in the island are almost totally assimilated in to mainstream society made up of largely a Hindu-Bhuddhist Indianized culture.
In many cultures across South East Asia, including Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos ancestor worship still survive to a greater degree though it has largely died out in Sri Lanka, which is much closer to India.
Curious Indianized Sri Lankans travel to Dambana to observe the original culture of the peoples of the island.
The Indianized colonists or migrants have built reservoirs for rice cultivation and nature reserves as late as the last century (1983 Maduru Oya National Park) taking over Veddah traditional land and restricting hunting through laws enacted by a European style parliament, according to critics.
The Yellowstone National Park in the US has also been used by a number of Native American tribes including Kiowa and Shoshone. The park halted the practice of private development of land by colonists.(Colombo/Oct26/2020)