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SOCIAL DIVISIONS AND CUSTOMS
HE Vaeddas are socially divided into a series of tribes or clans, called by them Warigē (or Warugë, according to Mr. Nevill), of which three hold much higher rank than the rest, with whom their members do not intermarry. These are (1) the Baṇḍāra warige, 'the Chief's clan'; (2) the Morāni warige; and (3) the Unāpāna warigē.
The members of at least these three clans, and I believe those of the other clans also, are admitted by the Kandian Sinhalese to belong to the Goyiwansa or Cultivating caste, the highest among the Sinhalese, though there are several different grades in it. Mr. Nevill was informed that in ancient times the Vaedda kings and chiefs were selected only from the Bandāra warige, as the name indicates. He stated that this clan is supposed by some to derive its origin from the children of the Vaedda princess Kuwēni, whom Wijaya married, their names being thought to be Sabarā and Sabarī. Of course no dependence can be placed on any claim to such a descent, though the fact remains that the clan is acknowledged by all Vaeddas, as well as the Sinhalese who are acquainted with it, to be of higher rank than the others.
How it came about that part of the Forest Vaeddas are members of this clan is a matter deserving special investigation. It may possibly be an indication of their relapse from a more cultured state for the reasons suggested by me, or owing to some cause which cannot now be traced.
Below these come the following clans: (4) Ūrana warigē, which Mr. Nevill called Uruwa, and put in the sixth place; (5) Nabudena or Namada warigē; (6) (6) Urāwāḍiya warige; (7) Aembalāna, or Aembala warige; and Mr. Nevill added also (8) Kōvila wanamē; (9) Talā warigē; and three terri
torial groups, those of (10) Tambalagama, (11) Kaṭṭakulam, and (12) Anuradhapura (? Tamankaḍuwa); as well as (13) the Coast Vaeddas. The warige names of the last four have been lost. Possibly the Wanniyas should also be included as an additional clan.
He found that the Kōvil waname has four territorial sections, those of Dambāna, Miyangoḍa, Mākanda, and Galkaeṭa; but their representatives are now very few in number, and apparently they could give no account of their ancestry, beyond a tradition that it was some members of the Dambāna section who discovered the Goddess Valliyammā as a child in the forest near Kataragama, and adopted and reared her until the War-God Skanda married her. He learnt that it was formerly the duty of this clan to act as guards of the Kataragama temple in south-eastern Ceylon, and that they resided in the district adjoining it.
This temple, dedicated to Skanda, is considered to be one of special sanctity, and is visited by pilgrims from all parts of India, including even the North-west Provinces. How it came to be established in such a site, and to acquire such importance is, I believe, unknown; it must have been partly due to encouragement and support given by the kings of Southern Ceylon in the times when they resided at Tissa or Magama, which is not far distant.
Possibly Kataragama may have been an important site of the worship of one of the deities of the aborigines. Dr. C. G. Seligmann has informed me that the Forest Vaeddas highly reverence a deity said by them to be the spirit of a Vaedda known during life as Kande Wanniyā, by which title he is frequently addressed in their invocations. If he was an ancient deity the new settlers may have identified him with Skanda, who is also a hill-god, and to whom worship is paid on the hills by some of the wild tribes of Southern India, according to information derived from a respectable Tamil eyewitness of it. Skanda's usual name in Ceylon, Kanda Kumāra, may have assisted in this identification, which would account for the Vaeddas' becoming the guardians of his temple, with which, however, Kandē Wanniyā is not now connected.
The princes (who may have been Vaedda chiefs) of Kājaragāma, as the place was then called, were included among the distinguished persons who were present when the celebrated Bō-tree was planted at Anuradhapura in 244 B.C.; and that an important Buddhist monastery was established at the spot at that time is proved by its being selected by King Dēvānampiya Tissa as one of the first places at which a shoot of the Bō-tree was planted. The only inscription that Dr. E. Müller saw there was a defaced one of the fourth century A.D.1
Mr. Nevill referred to a local legend that it was at Kataragama that Skanda and his forces defeated the Asuras; and that he also met Valliyammā and married her there, after she had been adopted in a Vaedda family 2; but I never heard of her being treated as a special goddess by either Sinhalese or Vaeddas. I give an illustration of these two deities (Fig. 35). It represents a panel at the great Saivite temple at Tanjore, and may date from the thirteenth century A.D.
When Dr. Davy visited Kataragama in 1819 he found two enclosures there, and said of them, ' In the largest square are the Kataragama Dēwāla [temple], and the Dewāla of his brother Gana [Gaņēsa]; a wihara dedicated to Buddha in a state of great neglect, and a fine Bo-gaha [Bō-tree]; and six very small kōvils [temples], mere empty cells, which are dedicated to the Goddess Pattini and to five demons. In the smaller square are contained a little karaṇḍuwa sacred to Isvara [Siva], the Kalyana Madama [shed], a kōvil dedicated to the demon [God] Bhairava, a rest-house for pilgrims, and some offices.' 4
The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth clans are said by Mr. Nevill to be practically extinct, their members having died out or been absorbed by the surrounding people. The others, who with the exception of the Urana warige, the Urāwāḍiya warigē, and the Coast Vaeddas, are very few in number, appear to 1. Ancient Inscriptions in Ceylon, p. 46.
2 The Taprobanian, Vol. i, p. 180.
3 An account of her will be found in a later chapter, on the Ancient Games.
4 An Account of the Interior of Ceylon, 1821, p. 420. I have corrected the spelling of the names and native words.