Wednesday, March 21, 2018 08:26:40 AM

Dealing with Caste Prejudice and Inequalities in Sri Lanka

By Devanesan Nesiah - Wed Nov 23, 9:52 pm

Featured image courtesy Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

From conference on “Caste, Social Justice and Democracy in Sri Lanka”, held on the 19th and 20th November 2016)

There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence of the wide prevalence of caste prejudice and occasional oppression spread across our island, particularly concentrated in some localities, notably in Jaffna, but focused research on the subject is hard to come by. By and large the subject seems to be taboo in public discussions. Although there are public demonstrations on many other subjects, there seem to be none on caste. Many would hold that it is no longer a problem except possibly in respect of one or two aspects of untouchability such as temple entry and land ownership, and that too only in Jaffna. The reality is different. A glance through published matrimonial advertisements would reveal that caste endogamy is required or at least preferred, not only among Hindus but also among Buddhists and even Christians.

In India and Nepal, the two Hindu dominated countries, the caste rules are clearly defined (in the Vedas, and more particularly, in the Manu Smriti), and the caste hierarchy has been virtually unchanged for millenia….

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