While it is a fact that the majority of the people of Sri Lanka today are Sinhalese, yet it has to be accepted that a very large number of them are descendants of South India
n Tamils who had come to the Island throughout the ages as peaceful migrants or South Indian(mainly Tamil)mercenaries or as warriors of Pandyan and Chola kings who settled here and were Sinhalised during course of time.
We can say very confidently that it is because of the Portuguese colonization that the Sinhalese find themselves as an overwhelming majority in Sri Lanka today viz a viz the Tamil minority. As Sri Lanka`s written historical annal, the Mahavamsa, mentions, ethnic Tamils have found themselves in Sri Lanka in a political culture that promoted Buddhism from the beginning of written history.
As a consequence, ethnic Tamils have assimilated into Sinhala Buddhist identity at varying rates since that time. It is no different than the invading Normans and Danes, as well as the indigenous Celts, becoming English over a period time in England.
This never ending process of amalgamation which is going on even today should have originated from the earliest time, well before the coming of Vijaya. This is the only way to explain the presence of Tamil or Tamil derived words even in the Pali chronicles. Most of the ancient names of rivers mentioned in the Mahavamsa are Tamil words. e.g. Kadamba Nadi, Mahakandara Nadi, Gona Nadi, Gambira Nadi etc ( Nadi = River in even in the present day Tamil).
KARAWA - KARAVE- KURUKULA
Along with the Mukkuvar and Paravar, they are coastal inhabitants of Sri Lanka. They are believed to have originated from the currently insignificant Karaiyar caste of fishers from Tamil Nadu. Alternatively, they are believed to have come from the coastal area known as the Coromandal coast of South India. These three fishing-related social groups are also found in Tamil Nadu and are regionally distributed with each group dominating a certain coastal belt. Karaiyar are found north of Tanjore in Tamil Nadu well into the Andhra Pradesh coastal areas.
Along with many so called Shudra castes of Tamil Nadu they have sanskritized their name to Kurukulam, indicating an origin from North India and Kshatriya origins. It should be noted that related Paravas have upgraded their name to Bharathas and other depressed groups such as Sakkiliar have changed their name to Arunthathiyas and Parayar to Sambavas to enable social upgrading. In Sri Lanka too the Karave claim Kuru ancestry thus assimilating with the majority Sinhalese people.
Few Karave north of Chilaw still speak Tamil but most of them south of Colombo are native Sinhala speakers and have become devoted Catholics and Buddhists with very little vestige of their former Hindu religion. Shudra or Sudra is the fourth caste or Jat in the traditional four-section division in Indian society.
Sanskritisation is a term coined by late Indian sociologist M.N.Srinivas, to define the process by which castes placed lower in the caste hierarchy seek upward mobility by emulating the rituals and practices of the upper or dominant castes.
Conversion of paravas by Francis Xavier, in a 19th-century colored lithograph Parava or Paravas, also known as Bharathar, Paravar, Meenparavar and Fernandos, is one of the oldest Tamil castes.
Along with other South Indian-derived castes, such as SALAGAMA and DURAVE they make a sizeable number of people among the coastal Sinhalese sub group (See Caste in Sri Lanka).
South India is a geographic and linguistic-cultural region of India. SALAGAMA (Halagama, Haali or Chaliya) is a Sri Lankan cinnamon peelers caste found mostly in Southern coastal areas, especially in the villages around Hikkaduwa and Balapitiya in Galle district.
DURAVE or Durava are traditionally toddy tapping social group or caste amongst the Sinhalese Buddhists of Sri Lanka. The system of Caste in Sri Lanka is a division of society into strata, differing somewhat from the classic Varnas of North India but is similar in nature to the Jati system found in South India.
FROM NOBODIES TO SOMEBODIES:
Most KARVE were initially converted to the Catholic religion by the Portuguese colonials after their arrival in 1505 CE. Thus introduced to the market economy via the colonial connection, Karave began their social and economic climb from nobodies to elites as noted by sociologists. Although the strides made thus far by a few lineages are impressive, a great many of them still languish at the bottom as day-to-day fishers with very little opportunity for material wealth.
Now the Karave are very vocal about their Sinhala Buddhist identity and drive the nationalistic political parties such as the SLFP
, both aligned to SINHALA NATIONALISM.:)))
Some sociologists have commented that the current civil war in Sri Lanka has become a vehicle by which both the Karaiyar and Karave have sought to marginalize the traditional elites by taking extremely partisan but opposite views.
Patabendige (also referred to as Patangatim, Pattangatti, Pattankatti in historical sources) is one of the most prevalent g? names among the Karava race of Sri Lanka.
The Portuguese historian Fr. Queyroz describes an early Portuguese battle in Sri Lanka as follows:
At that time the Kinglet of the Careas appeared with the whole might of that kingdom which exceeded 20,000(Queyroz 631). Valentyn too notes that the chiefs of Sri Lanka were from among the Kar?vas (Valentyn 1726). During this period, Chem Nayque and other Karavas were the Naval commanders of the Nayaks of Tanjore (Queyroz, 638). But in addition to manning the Navy, the Karavas have also been handling trade activities for them. For example the Patangatim of Mannar had been responsible in the early 1600s for arranging the sale of pearls in the Nayaks? territory in India. (Pieris The Kingdom of Jaffna
(Picture: A flag which belonged to Don Pedro Arsecularatna of Maggona, depicting the arrival of a group of Karava chiefs and retainers.)