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Tamil of Sri Lanka

Tamil of Sri Lanka

ETHNONYMS: Tamilarkal (Tamil people), Tamilian

Orientation

Identification and Location. Linguistically and culturally related to the Tamil- and Malayalam-speaking peoples of southern India, Sri Lankan Tamils have resided since approximately the thirteenth century in their traditional homelands (approximately described by the boundaries of the present Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka). Sri Lanka is located between 5° 55" and 9° 51" N. and 79° 41" and 81° 53" E. A predominantly Saivite Hindu and Tamil-speaking population that might be mistaken as an extension of south Indian society, Sri Lankan Tamils developed their culture in relative isolation from the great cultural centers of southern India. For centuries, Sri Lankan Tamils appear to have interacted more closely with their southern compatriots, the predominantly Buddhist Sinhalese, than with southern Indians; apart from language and religious affiliation, Sri Lanka Tamil and Sinhalese social systems, customs, and folk religious practices resemble each other far more closely than either does to the cultures of neighboring India. The Sri Lanka Tamils' unique geographical and historical experience generated a distinctively Sri Lankan variant of Tamil culturea fact that is keenly felt by Sri Lankan Tamils themselves, who often speak of themselves as a small, unique, and deeply threatened community with no real ties to India.

Sri Lankan Tamil affiliation is by no means merely linguistic; Sri Lankan Tamils distinguish themselves (and are so distinguished by the country's largest ethnic population, the Sinhalese) from other Tamil-speaking groups in the region. (These are the so-called "Indian Tamils," who are Tamil-speaking descendants of south Indian Tamil laborers who were brought to Sri Lanka to work nineteenth-century British tea plantations, as well as from the indigenous, Tamil-speaking Muslim population of Sri Lanka, and the Sri Lankan Moors, who dwell in the eastern coastal region and in the central highlands.) Viewing their postcolonial situation in dramatically different terms and rarely amenable to political cooperation, the three Tamil-speaking communities have been unable to work together to improve the conditions of Tamil speakers in Sri Lanka.

The center of Sri Lankan Tamil population and culture is the densely populated Jaffna Peninsula of the extreme north; other Tamil population concentrations are found on the island of Mannar and along the eastern coastal littoral, stretching from north of Trincomalee to Batticaloa. Many of today's Sri Lankan Tamils refer to their traditional Northern and Eastern Province homelands using the politically charged term "Tamil Eelam," which originally meant "Tamil Sri Lanka" but has now become virtually synonymous with the Tamils' quest for a separate state.

Since mid-nineteenth century, there has been a series of emigrations that amount to a diaspora. Considered by the colonial British as more hard-working and reliable than the Sinhalese, Sri Lanka Tamils found favor in civil service employment (a fact that generated significant Sinhalese enmity and led to anti-Tamil measures enacted by the Sinhalese-dominated postindependence government). Many Tamils took overseas civil service jobs; in consequence, significant and enduring Sri Lanka Tamil communities arose in Malaysia and Singapore. In the twentieth century, Sri Lankan Tamils migrated to the North Central Province as rain forest contraction and irrigation made new lands available, as well as to Colombo, where the many English-speaking Tamils found ready employment. By 1975, almost half the Sri Lankan Tamil population dwelled outside the group's traditional homelands. More recently, the Tamil diaspora has been fueled by the intractable conflict between Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a militant separatist group that seeks an autonomous Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka. According to a 2001 estimate by the U.S. Committee for Refugees, more than 500,000 Sri Lankan Tamils have been internally displaced by the fighting, while an additional 100,000 had fled to India and some 50,000 have sought political asylum in Britain, Europe, and Canada. Expatriate Sri Lankan Tamils typically try to maintain close ties with families back home. Foreign remittances have long been a significant factor in the otherwise impoverished Jaffna Peninsula; since the mid-1980s, these remittances have also provided crucial support for LTTE operations.

Demography. In 2001, the population of Sri Lanka was estimated to be 19,408,635. The population density averages approximately 100 persons per square mile (252 per square kilometer) and the population is growing at an estimate 0.87 percent per year; life expectancy (males and females) is 72.09 years. HIV/AIDS prevalence among adults is estimated to be 0.07 percent, with 490 HIV/AIDS-related deaths in 1999. With sufficient numeric predominance to exclude Tamil-speaking communities from Sri Lanka's political affairs, the Sinhalese constitute nearly three quarters (74 percent) of the population of Sri Lanka. Tamil-speaking peoples comprise most of the remainder (25 percent); this category includes Sri Lanka Tamils (11 percent), Indian Tamils (7 percent); and Sri Lanka Moors (7 percent).

Linguistic Affiliation. The Tamil spoken by Sri Lankan Tamils is a distinct regional dialect of mainland Tamil (of the Dravidian language family), but the two are mutually intelligible. The Sri Lankan dialect is characterized by its conservatism; testifying to the relative isolation of Sri Lankan Tamil culture, the dialect preserves archaic features of Tamil that have been dropped or altered on the mainland. Aware of their dialect's distinctiveness, Sri Lankan Tamils consider their dialect to be purer than that of the mainland. Like mainland Tamil, the Tamil spoken in Sri Lanka is characterized by diglossia. (One variant of the language is used for high-status situations, such as political speeches, while another is used for everyday conversation.) Beginning in 1813, American missionaries built an impressive series of English-medium schools (including Jaffna College, which was arguably the best secondary school in all of nineteenth century Asia) ; Sri Lanka Tamils thus had the advantage over the Sinhalese in the quest for English-medium civil service posts.

History and Cultural Relations

The culture of Sri Lankan Tamils took on distinctiveness from its close proximity to the Sinhalese and from waves of immigration from diverse regions of southern India. Many features of Sri Lankan Tamil culture, including village settlement patterns, inheritance and kinship customs, and domestic and village "folk religion," stand in sharp contrast to mainland Tamil customs. One possible reason is that the immigrants who created the first Tamil settlements in Sri Lanka appear to have come not just from the Tamil region of south India but from the Kerala coast as well; perhaps significantly, early European visitors to the island used the term "Malabars" (not "Tamils") to describe Sri Lankan Tamils.

It is not known when Tamils first settled in Sri Lanka, and the answer is not likely to be known any time soon. Regrettably, the quest for historical truth too often takes a back seat to political extremism in Sri Lanka's tense academic circles. Clearly, Tamil-speaking fishing folk visited the coasts, seasonally or permanently, as early as the opening centuries of the Christian era, either for their own fishing needs or to engage in the pearl trade between Sri Lanka and Rome. During the period of the classical Sinhala dry zone civilizations (from approximately the first to the twelfth centuries c.e.), there is some evidence that Tamil-speaking Buddhist merchants settled in the northern and eastern seacoast regions, where they built towns and shrines. Permanent Sri Lanka Tamil settlements may have arisen in the north as early as the eleventh century. Clearly, by the thirteenth century, Tamil settlement in the north and east was well established; by that date, an independent Tamil Hindu kingdom arose in the Jaffna Peninsula. More focused on Sri Lanka than India, this state vied with its Sinhalese counterparts for control of one of the world's richest pearl banks, located near Mannar.

The Portuguese subdued the Hindu king in 1619. Unable to operate safely beyond the seacoasts due to the threat of disease, the Portuguese left their legacy in coastal Catholic communities that persist today.

In 1658, the Dutch supplanted Portuguese rule; unlike their predecessors, the Dutch penetrated more deeply into the social fabric of the Sri Lanka Tamil community. The Dutch codified the traditional legal system of Jaffna, but in such a way that they interpreted indigenous caste customs in line with Roman-Dutch definitions of slavery. Taking advantage of the situation, agriculturists of the dominant Vellala caste turned to tobacco-growing using Pallar slaves brought from southern India. Jaffna soon became one of the most lucrative sources of revenue in the entire Dutch colonial empire; Jaffna tobacco was widely esteemed throughout Asia, and remnants of this esteem survive to this day.

In 1796, the British expelled the Dutch from the island. During the first four decades of British rule, few changes were made, with the exception of granting freedom of religious affiliation and worship, a move that was deeply appreciated by the Tamil population. Slavery was abolished in 1844, but the change in legal status brought few meaningful changes to the status of Pallar and other low-caste laborers. More threatening to the structure of Tamil society was a conversion campaign by Christian missionaries, who built within the Tamil areas (especially Jaffna) what is generally considered to be the finest system of English-language schools to be found in all of Asia during the nineteenth century.

In response to a tide of Christian conversions, Arumuka Navalar (1822-1879), a Hindu religious leader, reformulated Hinduism in line with austere religious texts so that it omitted many practices Christian missionaries had criticized as "barbarous," such as animal sacrifice. Navalar's movement was resented by many Hindus who felt that sacrifice and other practices were necessary, but his reformed Hinduism stemmed the tide of Christian conversions. Benefiting from the missionaries' English-language schools without converting to Christianity, many Sri Lankan Tamils (except those of low caste) turned away from agriculturewhich became far less lucrative as the nineteenth century advancedand toward government employment in the rapidly expanding British colonial empire.

In this adaptation to foreign rule, an accommodative, utilitarian culture arose that stressed rigorous study in professional fields, such as medicine, law, and engineering, together with staunch adherence to Hindu tradition. Family support of educational achievement led to extraordinary success in the British meritocracy but to disaster later: after Sri Lanka's independence in 1948, many Sinhalese came to feel that Tamils were disproportionately represented in Sri Lanka's civil service, as well as in its professions, judiciary, and business affairs. In 1956, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike won a massive electoral victory by appealing to these sentiments and promising to implement Sinhala as the sole official language of government affairs. Tensions over the language act led to the 1958 riots, in which Sinhalese mobs attacked Tamils living in Sinhalese areas.

In the 1970s, the ruling, Sinhalese-dominated Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) imposed quotas on Tamil university admissions and civil service employment; the net effect of these quotas was to all but eliminate Tamil access to a university education or civil service jobs. Despondent and intractably unemployed, Tamil youths increasingly turned to radical youth organizations. Fearing the consequences of increasing youth militancy, the ruling Tamil political party called, in 1974, unsuccessfully, for the peaceful creation of a separate Tamil state in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

In the early 1980s, the rise of a violent Tamil separatist movement resulted in a wave of bank robberies and violent assassinations, mainly aimed at Tamils who were suspected of collaborating with Sinhalese organizations. In 1981, Sinhalese security forces went on a brutal rampage in Jaffna, burning down Jaffna's public library (formerly one of the best in Asia) and terrorizing the population. Even those Sri Lanka Tamils who had still hoped for a peaceful solution came to believe that only the militant youths, collectively known as "The Boys," could protect them; however, they soon learned that the militant Tamil groups presented their own dangers owing to their practice of forced conscription. Those who could fled overseas or to Colombo, but the 1983 Riots, which appeared to have the unofficial guidance and support of some sections of the government, effectively eliminated the Tamil business presence in Colombo.

In spite of efforts by non-governmental organizations to bring about a mediated settlement, the LTTE and Sri Lankan security forces are still in battle after (at this writing) nearly twenty years of violence. The struggle is characterized by a see-saw pattern in which Sinhalese security forces are sometimes able to recapture Northern and Eastern Province towns and cities, leaving the countryside, in effect, in LTTE hands; the Sri Lankan troops, meanwhile, are easy targets for LTTE reprisals. Most observers have concluded that neither side will be able to achieve its objectives through military means alone.

Settlements

Sri Lankan Tamil regions are predominantly rural; even the towns seem like overgrown villages. The rural-urban balance has not changed significantly as of the beginning of the twenty-first century, due to an almost complete lack of industrial development, as well as to Sri Lanka's vigorous rural social service program (vestiges of which still function despite the conflict). Traditional villages are nonnucleated; they consist of hamlets, in each of which members of a single caste reside. The only obvious center of the village is the temple of the village goddess. Lanes wander through the village, and homes are hidden behind stout, living fences (trees), which provide copious green manure fertilizer for gardens. Land is traditionally divided into three categories: house land, garden land, and paddy land. Traditional houses are made of mud and thatch; wealthier villagers construct stucco houses roofed with ceramic tiles. Houses are situated within a private fenced compound, which is usually planted with mangoes, coconut palms, and palmyras.

Economy

Subsistence. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities in 1983, subsistence agriculture, supplemented by marginal employment, characterized the economic life of most of the rural poor among Sri Lankan Tamils. Except for the eastern coastal region, where irrigation produces high rice yields, rice agriculture in Tamil areas is extensive, but rainfall-dependent and only marginally economic at best produces only enough for subsistence. Under import restrictions following Sri Lanka's independence, Jaffna became a major source of garden crops, including tomatoes, chilies, onions, tobacco, gourds, pumpkins, okra, brinjal (eggplants), betel, potatoes, manioc, and a variety of indigenous grains. Traditional agricultural practices make intensive use of green and animal manures, although the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is increasing. In coastal regions with limestone bedrock (and particularly in Jaffna), groundwater is intensively used to supplement rainfall; irrigation is rare, except in the eastern coastal region. Domestic animals include cattle and chickens. Significant foods of last recourse include manioc and the ubiquitous palmyra, which supplies starch from seedlings, molasses, jam, and a mildly alcoholic beverage called toddy.

Before the war, rapid growth in the service sector (especially retailing, transport, communications, banking, public administration, education, health services, repair, and construction) created significant new employment opportunities for Tamils who could no longer look to the professions and civil service. Since then, military conflict has all but destroyed the once flourishing economy of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. According to estimates by refugee organizations, between 600,000 and 800,000 Sri Lankan Tamils are dependent on food provided by international relief organizations.

Industrial Arts. Some members of the artisan castes (goldsmiths, blacksmiths, carpenters, potters, and temple builders) still create traditional goods such as jewelry, ox carts, hoes, and cooking pots, although such goods face stiff competition from industrially manufactured plastic and aluminum goods, so that traditional goods are increasingly used only for ceremonial purposes. Few industrial enterprises were located in Tamil regions, with the exception of the state-owned cement factory at Kankesanthurai along the northern coast, the chemical factory at Paranthan, and a paper factory at Valaichenei in the east; most such enterprises closed, and their premises were destroyed, in the war. Private-sector ventures include manufacturing or assembly of garments, toys, candies, bottled juices, and soap. But indigenous goods are regarded as shoddy and receive stiff competition from imports and rampant smuggling.

Trade. The rural economy is thoroughly cash-based. Village boutique owners and wealthy villagers often engage poorer villagers in what eventually becomes debt servitude. Shops in town sell needed consumer items, and weekly village markets provide marginal economic niches for itinerant traders and village cash-crop agriculturists. Transport is provided by bullock carts, tractors pulling flatbed trailers, old automobiles, and light trucks. Remittances from family members working abroad provide a significant source of incomeor the only source of incomefor many families.

Division of Labor. Traditional Sri Lankan Tamil society is male-dominated and patriarchal, with a strong division of labor by sex, arranged marriages, and a tendency to demean female roles. Female seclusion is a concomitant of family status, thus discouraging women from travel or work without a constant chaperone. However, new employment and educational opportunities for women cause many families to moderate the traditional division of labor as they seek additional income. In general, women are responsible for domestic affairs while men work outside the home in agriculture, transport, industry, services, and government.

Land Tenure. Land is held outright, but holdings tend to be both minute and geographically fragmented. Bilateral inheritance, coupled with population increase, compounds subdivision. Landlessness is increasingly common, and often delays or prevents marriage, because traditional dowry customs require the married pair to be given lands and a house.

Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. The largest kin group is the "microcaste" (called "our caste people" in Tamil), a section of a larger caste category within which people recognize common descent and a shared status. The microcaste is often distributed among several hamlets or wards in adjoining (or in some cases separated) villages; within the hamlet microcaste members cooperate in agriculture, ritual, trade, and politics. In sharp contrast to south Indian Tamil culture, descent is fully bilateral, except in the eastern coastal regions, where matrilineal descent is common.

Kinship Terminology. The Sri Lankan Tamils use Dravidian kinship terms, which strongly encourage symmetrical cross-cousin marriage.

Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriages among the "respectable" castes are arranged by parents and are accompanied by a large dowry, which, again in sharp contrast to the mainland Tamil pattern, includes lands and a house as well as movables and cash. Boys are expected to delay marriage so that they can help their parents accumulate enough wealth to marry off their sisters. A girl is technically eligible to marry after puberty, but marriages are increasingly delayed, often into a woman's mid- to late twenties, owing to the difficulties involved in assembling the dowry and finding a suitable groom. The ideal groom is an educated, English-speaking, government-employed man from a good, respectable family of the same microcaste. He is also ideally a cross-cousin of the bride, although this is by no means necessary. The traditional Hindu wedding is a lavish affair that proclaims the family's status. For poorer and low-caste families, who can afford neither the dowry nor the ceremony, weddings are far more casual. For most couples the marriage is strictly an unromantic relationship, though it may grow into love later; a "good wife" submits to her husband's authority and serves him humbly and obediently.

If a boy's parents discover that he has fallen in love, they take offense at this erosion of their authority and try to break up the relationship; if a girl's parents discover that she has fallen in love, they express their disdain for her and take advantage of the situation by trying to strike a marriage deal that involves little or no dowry. More rarely, broad-minded parents may try to arrange what appears to be a traditional marriage even if the two are in love. Residence after marriage is neolocal, the determining factor being the availability of lands and a house. Although wife abuse is thought to be common, it is publicly discouraged and, in strong contrast to India, women have a moderate degree of economic recourse in that they retain property rights under traditional Tamil law (which is upheld in the courts). Divorce is exceptionally uncommon and quite difficult to obtain, but among the poor and lower castes desertion and new, casual relationships are common.

Domestic Unit. The average household is five or six persons; a married couple may be joined by elderly parents after these parents relinquish their lands and homes to other children in a form of pre-mortem inheritance.

Inheritance. In contrast to the mainland Tamil pattern, property is divided equally among all childrenif any property is left after paying dowry at the going rates.

Socialization. Small children are treasured by most adults, who play with them, tease them, and create homes that are structured around their needs. A first rice-feeding ceremony takes place at approximately six months. Toilet training is relaxed and untraumatic. But there is a pronounced change at approximately age five, when the parents begin the task of bending the child to their will. At this age there begins an authoritarian relationship in which the parents assume the right to determine the child's school interests, prospective career, friends, attitudes, and spouse. Tradition-minded families may force girls to leave school at puberty, following which there was formerly a ceremony (now done privately or not at all) that declared the girl to be technically eligible for marriage; she dons a sari and is no longer free to go about unchaperoned.

Both the family and school declare to children, in effect, "Do what we tell you to do and we will take care of you in life." However, families and schools are increasingly unable to deliver on this promise. In the 1970s, Tamil youths found themselves receiving authoritarian pressure from their families to conform but faced bleak prospects; this double bind apparently contributed to a tripling of suicide rates, giving the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka one of the highest recorded suicide rates in the world. The rise of youthful Tamil militant groups is not only a political phenomenon but also a generational revolt; Tamil youths are rejecting not only Sinhalese rule but also the moderate politics and social conservatism of their parents.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Like the regions of southern India, part of the distinctiveness of Sri Lanka's Tamil regions stems from the presence of a self-consciously unique, dominant agricultural caste, around which the entire traditional caste system was seen to revolve. In the north, the Vellala (agricultural) caste predominated, while in the eastern coastal region the dominant caste role was assumed by the Mukkuvar, a former fishing caste that turned to agriculture.

Tamil society departs from that of south India in ways that are obvious to Tamils. For example, in sharp contrast to the Tamil mainland, Brahmans are few; although Brahmans are considered of higher status than the dominant caste in ritual terms, they are generally poor and serve the dominant caste as temple priests or temple managers. Traditional intercaste services were both sacred and secular. The sacred services, such as the services provided by barbers and washers at life-cycle rites and by agricultural laborers at sacrificial rituals, served to define and regulate the low status of serving groups, while the secular ones created patron-client linkages that could endure for generations. The artisan castes freed themselves from these relationships by taking advantage of British liberalization, the expanding service economy, and their urban residence. The rural service and labor castes remained in traditional relationships with the dominant castes until the mid-twentieth century, when the rise of a service economy created the new marginal economic niches for these groups at the same time that mechanization rendered their labor unnecessary. Coastal fishing groups were never so observant of caste differences, and in consequence have long rejected the stigma of low status.

Prior to the twentieth century, caste statuses were upheld by dozens of detailed regulations, such as a rule prohibiting low-caste women from covering the upper half of their bodies. Caste discrimination in such matters, including temple entry and the use of public facilities and conveyances, is now illegal, but persisted in rural areas until the outbreak of the war. In the face of the brutal occupation of Tamil areas by Sinhalese security forces in the early 1980s, caste rivalry diminished in intensity as the Tamil community integrated vertically in order to meet the external challenges posed by the war; for example, prominent in Tamil militant organizations are leaders from low or marginal castes. Tamil youthful militancy is thus often a rejection of traditional caste ideology as well as a generational and ethnic revolt. Still, it would be wrong to say that the war has erased the divisions of caste structure, which still reigns supreme as a principle of familial and community organization. Sri Lanka Tamil society appears to be evolving in the direction of Sinhalese society, in which most people view caste as a positive and valuable means of affiliation but strongly reject the notion that the various castes should be differentially ranked or empowered.

Political Organization. Sri Lanka is nominally a parliamentary democracy with a president as the head of state. The two-party parliamentary system is, however, dominated by Sinhalese, and the Sri Lankan Tamils are not sufficiently numerous to affect the outcome of elections. As a result, moderate Tamil politicians who endorsed a parliamentary solution to Tamil grievances were ineffective and were swept away during the rise of Tamil youthful militancy.

The Sri Lankan state is partly an artifact of colonial rule: excessively centralized, it was devised to suppress regional rebellions as the British were consolidating their power. The failure of this overly centralized political system to devolve power to the provinces is one of the reasons for the rise of militant Tamil separatism. Unable to win concessions from the Colombo government, Tamil parliamentarians lost credibility and were pushed out of the Tamil community by militant youth groups, which were composed mainly of unemployed graduates as well as unmarried and rootless youth. These groups competed with each othersometimes violentlyuntil the 1987 incursion by Indian troops under the provisions of an accord between Colombo and Delhi. The Marxist-oriented groups, unlike other factions, accommodated to the Indian security forces, but their presence and actions in the Sri Lankan Tamil community were resented as much as those of the Colombo forces. After the departure of the Indian troops, the Marxist groups lost credibility along with political moderates. At the beginning of the twenty-first century LTTE had effectively eliminated other potential sources of political leadership within the Tamil community.

Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Sri Lankan Tamils are predominantly Hindus, but there are significant enclaves of Roman Catholics and Protestants (mainly Methodists). Hinduism of Tamil Sri Lanka is at once utilitarian, philosophical, and deeply devotional. Shiva is the supreme deity but is not worshiped directly; he bestows his grace by running your life so you aspire to nothing other than reunification with him. The perspective taken toward the other deities is frankly utilitarian: they are approached for help with mundane problems, such as illnesses, university exams, job applications, conflicts, legal problems, or infertility. Commonly worshiped deities include Shiva's sons Murukan and Pillaiyar, the several village goddesses (such as Mariyamman and Kannakiyamman), and a host of semi-demonic deities who are thought to demand sacrifices. Of all deities, most beloved is Murukan, who bestows boons even on those who may be unworthy, to the extent that they devote themselves to him.

Religious Practitioners. In temples that conform to the medieval temple-building manuals (called Agamas), the priests are Brahmans. A small caste of non-Brahman temple priests called Saiva Kurukkals performs the rites at non-Agama temples, particularly shrines of the goddess Amman. The officiants at village and family temples, called pucaris, are ordinary villagers with whom the temple's god has established a spiritual relationship, often through a form of spirit possession. Here and there one finds temple priests who open a shrine to the public and try to solve medical, legal, and social problems for all comers, without regard to caste. The very few holy men are revered but may attract more foreign than indigenous disciples. Astrologists are numerous and are routinely consulted at birth, marriage, and times of trouble; Hindus believe that one's fate is "written on one's head" (talai viti) and cannot be fully escaped, although some intelligent finessing and divine assistance can help one avoid some problems or calamities.

Ceremonies. Households celebrate a rich repertoire of calendrical and life-cycle rituals that bring the family together in joyous, festive holidays. Village temples offer annual "car" festivals, in which the deity is carried around the temple atop a huge chariot; these ceremonies used to attract visitors from all over the country.

Arts. With its utilitarian ethos, Sri Lankan Tamil culture does not encourage young people to pursue careers in the arts. Even so, young people today may receive instruction in traditional South Indian classical music (Carnatic music) or South Indian dance (Bharata Natyam) as a means of impressing on them the antiquity and greatness of Tamil culture. Music and dance were formerly associated with low-caste status.

Medicine. There is a pronounced division of labor between scientific medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, which is thought to be more effective for mental illness, snakebite, paralysis, and listlessness.

Death and Afterlife. Westerners who believe Hindus are focused on a better life after reincarnation are inevitably surprised by the almost complete disinterest that Tamil Hindus show in the afterlife. It is thought, though, that someone who dies without having fulfilled a great longing will remain to vex the living. Cremation is the norm and is followed, for most castes, by a period of death pollution lasting thirty-one days; subsequently there is an annual death observance with food offerings. For the few highly educated Hindus familiar with the Saiva Siddhanta tradition, an expressed goal of afterlife is reunification with Shiva.

For the original article on Tamil, see Volume 3, South Asia.

Bibliography

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Fuglerud, Ivind, and Oivind Fuglerud (1999). Life on the Outside: The Tamil Diaspora and Long-Distance Nationalism. London: Pluto Press.

Hellman-Rajanayagam, Dagmar (1994). The Tamil Tigers. Armed Struggle for Identity. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

Holmes, W. Robert (1980). Jaffna (Sri Lanka) : 1980. Jaffna: Jaffna College.

Manogaran, Chelvadurai, and Bryan Pfaffenberger, eds. (1995). The Sri Lankan Tamils: Ethnicity and Identity. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

McGilvray, Dennis (1982). Caste Ideology and Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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BRYAN PFAFFENBERGER

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Tamil of Sri Lanka

Tamil of Sri Lanka

ETHNONYMS: Tamilarkal (Tamil people), Tamilian


Orientation

Identification. Linguistically and culturally related to the Tamiland Malayalam-speaking peoples of southern India, Sri Lankan Tamils have long resided in their traditional homelands (the northern and eastern cultural regions of Sri Lanka), and interacted with the neighboring Sinhalese. The products of their unique geographical and historical circumstances are a distinct culture and society. Predominantly Hindus, Sri Lankan Tamils call their traditional homelands Tamil Eelam, a term that originally meant "Tamil Sri Lanka" but has now become virtually synonymous with the Tamils' quest for a separate state in the predominantly Tamil-speaking Northeastern Province. Sri Lankan Tamils distinguish themselves from the so-called "Indian Tamils," who are Tamil-speaking descendants of south Indian Tamil laborers brought to Sri Lanka to work nineteenth-century British tea plantations, as well as from the indigenous, Tamil-speaking Muslim population of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Moors, who dwell in the eastern coastal region and in the central highlands.

Location. Sri Lanka is located between 5°55 and 9°51 N and 79°41 and 81°53 E. Sri Lankan Tamils traditionally made their homes within the present Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, within the dry zone. The center of Sri Lankan Tamil population and culture is the densely populated Jaffna Peninsula of the extreme north; other Tamil Population concentrations are found on the island of Mannar and along the eastern coastal littoral, stretching from north of Trincomalee to Batticaloa. In recent times, many Sri Lankan Tamils have migrated to the North Central Province and to Colombo; almost half the Sri Lankan Tamil population dwells outside the group's traditional homelands. Significant overseas communities of Sri Lankan Tamils in London, Australia, and Malaysia maintain close ties with families back home; foreign remittances are a significant element in the Sri Lankan Tamil economy.

Demography. In 1989 the population of Sri Lanka was estimated at 17,541,000, with an average population density of 252 persons per square kilometer and a growth rate of 1.8 percent per year. Sri Lankan Tamils constitute approximately 11 percent of the island's population. Manyperhaps as much as 60 percent of the populationare refugees from nearly a decade of fighting.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Tamil spoken by Sri Lankan Tamils is a distinct regional dialect of mainland Tamil, but the two are mutually intelligible; Sri Lankan Tamils consider their dialect to be purer than that of the mainland. They fear that their language's survival is threatened by a Sri Lankan government that, in 1956, made Sinhala the sole official Language of government affairs and, in 1973, elevated Sinhala to the status of the national language. Although subsequent measures were taken to allow for the legitimate administrative and educational use of Tamil within the predominantly Tamil areas and Tamil was also made a national language by the 1978 constitution, Tamils nevertheless believe that Tamil Speakers are subject to rampant discrimination and cannot effectively participate in Sri Lanka's national affairs.

History and Cultural Relations

The unique culture of Sri Lankan Tamils took on distinctiveness early from its close proximity to the Sinhalese and from waves of immigration from diverse regions of southern India. Many features of Sri Lankan Tamil culture, including village settlement patterns, inheritance and kinship customs, and domestic and village "folk religion," stand in sharp contrast to mainland Tamil customs. One possible reason is that the immigrants who created the first Tamil settlements in Sri Lanka appear to have come not just from the Tamil region of south India but from the Kerala coast as well. It is not known when Tamils first settled in Sri Lanka; fishing folk doubtless visited the coasts, seasonally or permanently, from an early date, either for their own fishing needs or to engage in the pearl trade between Sri Lanka and Rome. During the period of the classical Sinhala dry zone civilizations (about the first twelve centuries a.d.), there is evidence that Tamil-speaking Buddhist merchants settled widely in the northern and Eastern seacoast regions, where they built towns and shrines. By the thirteenth century, in the wake of the collapse of the Sinhalese dry zone civilizations, a Tamil Hindu kingdom arose in the Jaffna Peninsula, with a Hindu king and a palace. The Portuguese subdued the Hindu king in 1619, and as their geographic control was only over the coastal region, they left their legacy in coastal Catholic communities that persist today. In 1658, the Dutch followed the Portuguese. The Dutch codified the traditional legal system of Jaffna, but in such a way that they interpreted indigenous caste customs in line with Roman-Dutch definitions of slavery. Taking advantage of the situation, agriculturalists of the dominant Vellala caste turned to cash-crop agriculture using Pallar slaves brought from southern India, and Jaffna soon became one of the most lucrative sources of revenue in the entire Dutch Colonial empire. In 1796, the British expelled the Dutch from the island. During the first four decades of British rule, few changes were made with the exception of granting freedom of religious affiliation and worship, a move that was deeply appreciated by the Tamil population. Slavery was abolished in 1844, but the change in legal status brought few meaningful changes to the status of Pallar and other low-caste laborers. More threatening to the structure of Tamil society was a sedulous conversion campaign by Christian missionaries, who built within the Tamil areas (especially Jaffna) what is Generally considered to be the finest system of English-language schools to be found in all of Asia during the nineteenth Century. In response to a tide of Christian conversions, Arumuka Navalar (1822-1879), a Hindu religious leader, reformulated Hinduism in line with austere religious texts so that it omitted many practices Christian missionaries had criticized as "barbarous," such as animal sacrifice. Navalar's movement was resented by many Hindus who felt that sacrifice and other practices were necessary, but his reformed Hinduism stemmed the tide of Christian conversions and gave educated Hindus access to a textual tradition of Saivism (called Saiva Siddhanta) that gave them pride in their religious traditions. Benefiting from the missionaries' English-language schools without converting to Christianity, many Sri Lankan Tamils (except those of low caste) turned away from agriculturewhich became far less lucrative as the nineteenth century advancedand toward government employment in the rapidly expanding British colonial empire. In this adaptation to foreign rule, an accommodative, utilitarian culture arose that stressed rigorous study in professional fields, such as Medicine, law, and engineering, together with staunch adherence to Hindu tradition. Family support of educational achievement led to extraordinary success in the British meritocracy but to disaster later: after Sri Lanka's independence in 1948, many Sinhalese came to feel that Tamils were disproportionately present in Sri Lanka's esteemed civil service, professions, judiciary, and business affairs. In 1956, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike won a massive electoral victory by appealing to these sentiments and promising to implement Sinhala as the sole official language of government affairs. Tensions over the language act led to the appalling 1958 riots, in which Sinhalese mobs attacked Tamils living in Sinhalese areas. The subsequent imposition of university and employment quotas radicalized Tamil youths; the first Tamil youth organizations included many unemployed graduates. In 1974, the Tamil political parties unified and called for the peaceful creation, though negotiation, of a separate Tamil state in the Northern and Eastern provinces, but largely because the Colombo Government made few concessions and political moderates seemed content to wait the situation out, Tamil youths rejected their elders' politics and began a wave of violent assassinations, mainly aimed at Tamils who were suspected of collaborating with Sinhalese organizations. In 1981, Sinhalese security forces went on a brutal rampage in Jaffna, burning down Jaffna's library and terrorizing the population, which came to the conclusion that only the youth groups could protect them. The 1983 Colombo riots, which appeared to have the unofficial guidance and support of some sections of the government, effectively eliminated the Tamil business Presence in Colombo and throughout the Sinhalese sections of the island, which further radicalized the Tamil people. After almost a decade of violence, the Colombo government has yet to make genuine concessions to the Tamil community and apparently believes the Tamil militants can be defeated by force. In the meantime, many Tamils have become refugees, hundreds of temples and schools have been destroyed, the Tamil middle class and intelligentsia have fled abroad, and tens of thousands of innocents have died, often in massacres of unspeakable brutality.


Settlements

Sri Lankan Tamil regions are predominantly rural; even the towns seem like overgrown villages. The rural-urban balance has not changed significantly in this century, thanks to Sri Lanka's vigorous rural social service program and to an almost complete lack of industrial development. Traditional villages are nonnucleated and are internally differentiated by hamlets, in which members of a single caste reside. The only obvious center of the village is the temple of the village goddess. Lanes wander chaotically through the village, and homes are hidden behind stout, living fences (trees), which provide copious green manure for gardens. Land is Traditionally divided into three categories: house land, garden land, and paddy land. Traditional houses are made of mud and thatch; wealthier villagers construct stucco houses roofed with ceramic tiles. Houses are situated within a private, fenced, almost secretive compound, which is usually planted with mangoes, coconut palms, and palmyras.


Economy

Subsistence and Agricultural Activities. Subsistence agriculture, supplemented by marginal employment, characterizes the economic life of most rural Sri Lankan Tamils. A Significant source of income for many families today is foreign remittances. Save in the eastern coastal region, where irrigation produces high rice yields, rice agriculture in Tamil areas is extensive but rainfall-dependent and only marginally Economic at best. Under import restrictions following Sri Lanka's independence, Jaffna became a major source of Garden crops, including tomatoes, chilies, onions, tobacco, gourds, pumpkins, okra, brinjal (eggplants), betel, potatoes, manioc, and a variety of grams and pulses. Traditional agricultural practices make intensive use of green and animal manures, although the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is increasingly common. In coastal regions with limestone bedrock (and particularly in Jaffna), groundwater is intensively used to supplement rainfall; irrigation is rare, save in the eastern coastal region. Domestic animals include cattle and chickens. Significant foods of last recourse include manioc and the ubiquitous palmyra, which supplies starch from seedlings, molasses, jam, and a mildly alcoholic beverage called toddy. Rapid growth in the service section (especially retailing, transport, communications, banking, public administration, education, health services, repair, and construction) has created significant new employment opportunities.

Industrial Arts. Some members of the artisan castes (goldsmiths, blacksmiths, carpenters, potters, and temple builders) still create traditional goods, such as jewelry, ox carts, hoes, and cooking pots, although such goods face stiff competition from industrially manufactured plastic and aluminum goods, so that traditional goods are increasingly used only for ceremonial purposes. Very few industrial enterprises are located in Tamil regions, with the exception of the state-owned cement factory at Kankesanthurai along the northern coast, the chemical factory at Paranthan, and a paper factory at Valaichenei in the east. Private-sector ventures include manufacturing or assembly of garments, toys, candies, bottled juices, and soap. But indigenous goods are regarded as shoddy and receive stiff competition from imports and rampant smuggling.

Trade. The rural economy is thoroughly cash-based. Village boutique owners and wealthy villagers often engage other more impecunious villagers in what eventually becomes debt servitude. Shops in town sell needed consumer items, and weekly village markets provide marginal economic niches for itinerant traders and village cash-crop agriculturalists. Transport is provided by bullock carts, tractors pulling flatbed trailers, old automobiles, light trucks, and the ubiquitous Ceylon Transit Board (CTB), the nation's bus service.

Division of Labor. Traditional Sri Lankan Tamil society is male-dominated and patriarchal, with a strong division of labor by sex, arranged marriages, and a tendency to demean female roles. Female seclusion is a concomitant of family Status, thus discouraging women from travel or work without a constant chaperone. However, significant new employment and educational opportunities for women cause many Families to moderate the traditional division of labor as they seek additional income. In general, women are responsible for Domestic affairs while men work outside the home in agriculture, transport, industry, services, and government.

Land Tenure. Land is held outright but holdings tend to be both minute and geographically fragmented. Bilateral Inheritance, coupled with population increase, compounds subdivision. Landlessness is increasingly common and delays or prevents marriage because traditional dowry customs require the married pair to be given lands and a house.


Kinship

Kin Groups and Descent. The largest kin group is the "microcaste" (called "our caste people" in Tamil), a section of a larger caste category within which people recognize Common descent and a shared status. The microcaste is often distributed among several hamlets or wards in adjoining (or in some cases separated) villages; within the hamlet microcaste members cooperate in agriculture, ritual, trade, and politics. In sharp contrast to south Indian Tamil culture, descent is fully bilateral, save in the eastern coastal regions, where matrilineal descent is common.

Kinship Terminology. Dravidian terms, which strongly encourage symmetrical cross-cousin marriage, are used.


Maniage and Family

Marriage. Marriages among the "respectable" castes are arranged by parents and are accompanied by a large dowrywhich, again in sharp contrast to the mainland Tamil pattern, includes lands and a house as well as movables and cash. Boys are expected to delay marriage so that they can help their Parents accumulate enough wealth to marry off their sisters. A girl is technically eligible to marry after puberty but marriages are increasingly delayed, often into a woman's mid-to late twenties, owing to the difficulties involved in assembling the dowry and finding a suitable groom. The ideal groom is an educated, English-speaking, and government-employed man from a good, respectable family of the same microcaste; again ideally, he is terminologically a cross-cousin of the bride, but this is by no means necessary. The traditional Hindu wedding is a lavish affair that proclaims the family's status. For most couples the marriage is strictly an unromantic relationship, though it may grow into love later; a "good wife" submits to her husband's authority and serves him humbly and obediently. If a boy's parents discover that he has fallen in love, they take offense at this erosion of their authority and try to break up the relationship; if a girl's parents discover that she has fallen in love, they express their disdain for her and take advantage of the situation by trying to strike a marriage deal that involves little or no dowry. More rarely, broad-minded parents may try to arrange what appears to be a traditional marriage even if the pair are in love. Residence after marriage is neolocal, the determining factor being the availability of lands and a house. "Love marriages" are increasingly Common. Poorer and low-caste families can afford neither the dowry nor the ceremony, so their marriages are far more casual. Although wife abuse is thought to be common, it is publicly discouraged and, in strong contrast to India, women have a moderate degree of economic recourse in that they retain property rights under traditional Tamil law (which is up-held in the courts). Divorce is exceptionally uncommon and quite difficult legally, but among the poor and lower castes desertion and new, casual relationships are common.

Domestic Unit. The average household is five or six Persons; a married couple may be joined by elderly parents after these parents relinquish their lands and homes to other Children in a form of premortem inheritance.

Inheritance. In contrast to the mainland Tamil pattern, property is divided equally among all childrenif any property is left after paying dowry at the going rates.

Socialization. Small children are treasured by most adults, who play with them, tease them, and create homes that are structured around their needs. A first rice-feeding ceremony takes place at approximately 6 months. Toilet training is relaxed and untraumatic. But there is a pronounced change at approximately age 5, when the parents begin the task of bending the child to their will. At this age there begins an authoritarian relationship in which the parents assume the right to determine the child's school interests, prospective career, friends, attitudes, and spouse. Tradition-minded families may force girls to leave school at puberty, following which there was formerly a ceremony (now done privately or not at all) that declared the girl to be technically eligible for marriage; she dons a sari and is no longer free to go about unchaperoned. Both the family and school declare to children, in effect, "Do what we tell you to do and we will take care of you in life." However, families and schools are increasingly unable to deliver on this promise. In the 1970s, Tamil youths found themselves receiving authoritarian pressure from their Families to conform but faced bleak prospects; this double bind apparently contributed to a tripling of suicide rates, giving the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka one of the highest recorded suicide rates in the world. The rise of youthful Tamil militant groups is not only a political phenomenon but also a generational Revolt; Tamil youths are rejecting not only Sinhalese rule but also the moderate politics and social conservatism of their parents.


Sociopolitical Organization

Sri Lanka is nominally a parliamentary democracy with a president as the head of state. The two-party parliamentary system is, however, dominated by Sinhalese, and the Sri Lankan Tamils are not sufficiently numerous to affect the outcome of elections. As a result moderate Tamil politicians who endorsed a parliamentary solution to Tamil grievances were ineffective and were swept away during the rise of Tamil youthful militancy.

Social Organization. Sri Lanka's Tamil regions take on their distinctiveness owing to the presence of a dominant agricultural castethe Vellala in the Jaffna Peninsula and the Mukkuvar in the eastern coastal regionon which the entire caste system is focused. In contrast to the Tamil mainland, Brahmans are few, and although they are considered higher than the dominant caste in ritual terms, they are generally poor and serve the dominant caste as temple priests or temple managers. Traditional intercaste services focused on the dominant caste and were both sacred and secular; the sacred services, such as the services provided by barbers and washers at life-cycle rites and by agricultural laborers at sacrificial rituals, served to define and regulate the low status of serving groups, while the secular ones created patron-client linkages that could endure for generations. Once bound to these sacred and secular relations, the artisan castes freed themselves by taking advantage of British liberalizations, the expanding service economy, and their urban residence. The rural service and labor castes remained in traditional relationships with the dominant castes until the mid-twentieth century, when the rise of a service economy created new marginal economic niches for these groups at the same time that mechanization rendered their labor unnecessary. Coastal fishing groups were never incorporated into the compass of agricultural caste Solidarity, and in consequence they have long maintained their independence and resisted the stigma of low status. Prior to the twentieth century, caste statuses were upheld by a huge variety of sumptuary regulations, such as a rule prohibiting low-caste women from covering the upper half of their bodies. Caste discrimination in such matters, including temple entry and the use of public facilities and conveyances, is now illegal but persists in rural areas. In the face of the brutal occupation of Tamil areas by Sinhalese security forces in the early 1980s, caste rivalry diminished in intensity as the Tamil community pulled together. Prominent in many Tamil militant organizations are leaders from low or marginal castes; Tamil youthful militancy is thus a rejection of traditional caste ideology as well as a generational and ethnic revolt.


Political Organization. The Sri Lankan state is partly an artifact of colonial rule: excessively centralized, it was devised to suppress regional rebellions as the British were consolidating their power. The failure of this overly centralized political system to devolve power to the provinces is one of the reasons for the rise of militant Tamil separatism. Unable to win concessions from the Colombo government, Tamil parliamentarians lost credibility and were pushed out of the Tamil Community by militant youth groups, which were composed mainly of unemployed graduates as well as unmarried and rootless youth. Fractious and focused on a single, charismatic leader, these groups competed with each othersometimes violentlyuntil the 1987 incursion by Indian troops under the provisions of an accord between Colombo and Delhi; the Marxist-oriented groups, unlike other factions, accommodated to the Indian security forces, whose presence and actions in the Sri Lankan Tamil community were resented as much as those of the Colombo forces. After the departure of the Indian troops, those Marxist groups lost credibility. At this writing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a nationalist group, has effectively eliminatedthrough attrition, fear, assassination, and massacreall other potential sources of political leadership within the Tamil community. They have won support among peasant folk who believe that no one else can protect them from the Sri Lankan security forces, but expatriate Tamils frequently voice concern that LTTE rule will amount to a brutal dictatorship.


Social Control. Within traditional Sri Lankan Tamil Villages gossip and ridicule were potent forces for social conformity. The family backed its authoritarian control through threats of excommunication (deprivation of lands, dowry, and family support). With growing landlessness and unemployment, however, many families are unable to deliver on their material promises and the threat of excommunication has become increasingly empty. Suicide and youthful militancy are both manifestations of a general rejection by youth of traditional forms of authoritarianism.

Conflict. Traditionally, conflicts occurred within families and between castes. Interfamily conflict often arose from Status competition, particularly when a wealthy ward attempted to cease relations with its "poorer relations" in pursuit of new, more lucrative ties with a similarly-endowed group. Longstanding grudges and obsession with "enemies," real or imagined, sometimes have led to violence. Dominant castes routinely used violence to punish subordinate groups that were taking on high-caste life-style attributes (such as using umbrellas) , often by burning down huts or poisoning wells. Since the late 1970s, the ineffectiveness of moderate Tamil politicians has led many Tamil youths to conclude that the only solution to their problems lies in violence. The result has been the rise, not only in Tamil areas but throughout Sri Lanka, of a culture of violence, in which unspeakable acts of slaughter and massacre are commonplace. It has even spilled over into India where, in 1991, Sri Lankan Tamils assassinated the former prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi. Official estimates are that approximately 20,000 have died in Sri Lanka's decade-old civil war but unofficial estimates place the toll at two to three times that figure.


Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Sri Lankan Tamils are predominantly Hindus, but there are significant enclaves of Roman Catholics and Protestants (mainly Methodists), who consider themselves to be full members of the Sri Lankan Tamil Community. Discussed here is the Hinduism of Tamil Sri Lanka, a Hinduism that is at once utilitarian, philosophical, and deeply devotional. Shiva is the supreme deity but is not worshiped directly; Shiva bestows his grace by running your life so you aspire to nothing other than reunification with him. The perspective taken toward the other deities is frankly utilitarian: they are approached for help with mundane problems, such as illnesses, university exams, job applications, conflicts, legal problems, or infertility. Commonly worshiped deities include Shiva's sons Murukan and Pillaiyar, the several village goddesses (such as Mariyamman and Kannakiyamman), and a host of semidemonic deities who are thought to demand sacrifices. Of all deities, most beloved is Murukan, who bestows boons even on those who may be unworthy, to the extent that they devote themselves to him.


Religious Practitioners. In temples that conform to the scriptural dictates of the medieval temple-building manuals (called Agamas), the priests are Brahmans. A small caste of non-Brahman temple priests called Saiva Kurukkals performs the rites at non-Agama temples, particularly shrines of the goddess Amman. The officiants at village and family temples, called pucaris, are ordinary villagers with whom the temple's god has established a spiritual relationship, often through a form of spirit possession. Here and there one finds temple priests who open a shrine to the public and try to solve medical, legal, and social problems for all comers, without regard to caste. The very few holy men are revered but may attract more foreign than indigenous disciples. Astrologists are Numerous and are routinely consulted at birth, marriage, and times of trouble; Hindus believe that one's fate is "written on one's head" (talai viti ) and cannot be fully escaped, although some intelligent finessing and divine assistance can help one avoid some problems or calamities.


Ceremonies. Households celebrate a rich repertoire of calendrical and life-cycle rituals that bring the family together in joyous, festive holidays. Village temples offer annual "car" festivals, in which the deity is carried around the temple atop a huge chariot; these ceremonies occur on a much larger scale in regional pilgrimage, which used to attract visitors from all over the country.


Arts. With its utilitarian ethos, Sri Lankan Tamil culture does not encourage young people to pursue careers in the arts. Even so, young people today may receive instruction in traditional Tamil music or dance as a means of impressing on them the antiquity and greatness of Tamil culture; music and dance were formerly associated with low-caste status.


Medicine. There is a pronounced division of labor Between scientific medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, which is thought to be more effective for mental illness, snakebite, paralysis, and listlessness.


Death and Afterlife. Westerners who believe Hindus are focused on a better life after reincarnation are inevitably surprised by the almost complete disinterest that Tamil Hindus show in the afterlife. It is thought, though, that someone who dies without having fulfilled a great longing will remain to vex the living. Cremation is the norm and is followed, for most castes, by a period of death pollution lasting thirty-one days; subsequently there is an annual death observance with food offerings. For the few highly educated Hindus familiar with the Saiva Siddhanta tradition, an oft-expressed goal of afterlife is reunification with Shiva.

See also Moor of Sri Lanka; Vellala

Bibliography

Banks, Michael Y. (1961). "Caste in Jaffna." In Aspects of Caste in South India, Ceylon, and North-West Pakistan, edited by E. R. Leach, 61-77. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Helleman-Rajanayagam, Dagmar (1988-1989). "The Tamil MilitantsBefore the Accords and After." Pacific Affairs 61:603-619.


Holmes, W. Robert (1980). Jaffna (Sn Lanka): 1980. Jaffna: Jaffna College.


McGilvray, Dennis (1982). Caste Ideology and Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


O'Ballance, Edgar (1989). The Cyanide War: Tamil Insurrection in Sri Lanka, 1973-1988. London: Brassey's.


Pfaffenberger, Bryan (1982). Caste in Tamil Culture: The Religious Foundations of Sudra Domination in Tamil Sri Lanka. Syracuse: Maxwell School of Foreign and Comparative Studies, Syracuse University.


Schwarz, Walter (1988). The Tamils of Sri Lanka. 4th ed. London: Minority Rights Group.

Skonsberg, Else (1982). A Special Caste? Tamil Women of Sri Lanka. London: Zed Press.

BRYAN PFAFFENBERGER

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"Tamil of Sri Lanka." Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Encyclopedia.com. 11 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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