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The Telugu-speaking Gypsies of Ceylon have a similar custom, but in their case the cooking of the food is also done on the grave itself immediately after the burial. Those present at the grave then eat it at the spot. The 'dāna" of the Sinhalese appears to be in its origin the same, or a closely allied, ceremony.
Among the Tamil-speaking Vaeddas the ceremony becomes a religious one, approaching in character that of their Tamil neighbours in honour of the Manes, rather than a farewell feast with the dead, and I therefore include it with other religious ceremonies.
I have no information regarding the social customs of the Wanniyas.
I append a list of some names of Vaeddas, in addition to the few chiefs previously mentioned:
Names given by Mr. Nevill, in 'The Taprobanian.'
1 Probably the final vowel is long in all these names; but it is not
so marked by Mr. Nevill.
1 So-called because he was born at a village of that name. are several place-names in the list of chiefs previously given.
THE VAEDI AND KAELĒ-BĀSA VOCABULARIES
THE Vaedi dialect is to a great extent the colloquial Sinhalese tongue, but is slightly changed in form and accent. Yet closely as it resembles the latter, these differences and the manner in which it is pronounced render it quite an unknown language when it is spoken to one who has not a special acquaintance with it. Besides this, the Vaeddas use their own terms for the wild animals and some other things about which they often find it necessary to converse. Such words are usually a form of Sinhalese, or admit of Sinhalese or Tamil derivations; but a very few may possibly belong to, or be modifications of words in, their original language, forming, with perhaps a few forms of grammatical expression, the only remains of it that have been preserved, with the exception of some doubtful terms found in Sinhalese.
Strange to say, the Kandian Sinhalese and the Wanniyas apparently imitate the Vaeddas while they are hunting in the forests, and also when engaged on ceremonies at their threshingfloors, and use another series of expressions or nicknames for many of the same animals, to the exclusion of the usual names for them. They have acquired a belief that unless a special dialect be employed while they are in the forest, they cannot expect to meet with any success or good luck in seeking honey, or hunting, or in avoiding dangerous animals.
This dialect of the forest is termed Kaelē-bāsa, 'Jungle language.' It consists of the employment of new words not only for animals but also for a few other nouns, and for verbs used to denote acts most commonly performed on such trips. In addition, all negative (that is, unlucky) modes of expression are totally debarred from use on such occasions, as well as the words
meaning ‘insufficient' and 'too much,' which are inauspicious as indicating dissatisfaction with the number or quantity to which they are applied.
As it appears to have some bearing on the connexion between the Kandian Sinhalese and the Vaeddas, I give a list of the words of this dialect (but not the words used at threshing-floors), together with the Vaedi words, the colloquial Kandian expressions, and their English equivalents.
Where the letter N is suffixed the word is taken from Mr. Nevill's writings. In the cases where no word is given in the Vaedi dialect or Kaelē-bāsa, both the Vaeddas and other hunters employ colloquial Sinhalese words, often slightly altered in pronunciation by the Vaeddas, as by using c for s, etc. It should be noted that in these lists the letter c is pronounced like the English ch in church. The Vaedi vocabulary which I append is extremely deficient, but that of the Kaelē-bāsa is nearly complete.
The whole of the Kaele-bāsa vocabulary is not employed in one district. Many words are common to all Sinhalese districts, including even the extreme south of the island; others are found only in special localities.
It is interesting to note that in the north, when a Kandian hunter is addressed in the forest the title Vaeddā' should be suffixed to his name; for instance, a person called Baṇḍā would be addressed by his hunting comrades as Baṇḍā-Vaeddā. Among the Wanniyas it is often the forest custom, when telling others to perform actions, to prefix the interjection Hō, as Hō! Yamalla, let us go '; Ho! Warilla, Come ye.' When inviting persons to eat food they similarly prefix Hā, as Hā! Balāgalla, eat ye.' These interjections are not so used by Sinhalese.