Tripin 2019 - page 94

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Sri Lanka is a no doubt a mystical
land. What inspired you to look
beyond the history books and dig
a little deeper?
A lot of it never made sense. I
think everything about Sri Lanka is
multi-dimensional. So how could
the history be so singular and
simple? All through my life I’ve
heard of these ‘other’ stories and
when you keep hearing stories
from really authentic people,
people from our ancient villages,
who actually believe in them, it
makes you wonder.
Everything I heard kept adding
up and I began to see a very clear
path. I’ve come to believe that
there was a very sophisticated
ancient civilization that we are not
acknowledging at all.
Why do you think we are not
acknowledging it?
Basically the problem is a Sinhala
Buddhist block that doesn’t want
to accept that there was a Pre-
Vijayan civilization.That is very
clear; for instance last week I went
to this place called Ranchamadama
near Uda Walawe, where they
excavated a cemetery, which is
dated to almost 4000 years ago.
This ancient cemetery displays a
very sophisticated burial ritual,
using clay canoe structures.
A few kilometers away they
found a village of the same era.
Subsequently, over 80 settlements
with a village and adjacent
cemetery, have been excavated,
on the South face of the Central
Massif.
How integral would you say oral
tradition is to understanding the
context of this country?
I think it is very important. Just
because written history is recorded
on paper doesn’t it doesn’t
make it more authentic. Before
colonial influences, everything was
preserved orally. It was memorized
in a poetic form. For instance,
the traditional mask makers in
Sri Lanka - There are over 500
different types of masks in our
tradition - the design for every
single one of them is memorized
as a verse. The verses are passed
on from generation to generation.
All our Ayurvedic treatments are
written as kavi (vernacular poems).
The Aborigines did it, the Native
Americans did it and the colonists
came, and in their ignorance,
dismissed this tradition.
INTERVIEW WITH SUNELA JAYAWARDENA
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