Spotlight - The Veddas in Sri Lanka - Sodha Travel

Allison Sodha

In the heart of Sri Lanka live the Veddas, an indigenous tribe who takes immense pride in an age-old lifestyle of hunting, collecting fruits, and worshipping spirits. Even with the impact of modernization, they treasure their traditions and maintain a fierce cultural preservation. Most Veddas speak Sinhala and Tamil - the official languages of Sri Lanka - as their native dialect is now nearly extinct. With faces blessed with sharp eyes, theirs is a heritage that spans hundreds of years.

Traditional Vedda Hutch, Photo Courtesy of Garret Clarke/Flickr

The tale of the Vedda tribe dates back to the founding father of the Sinhalese nation, Vijaya, who married an indigenous princess and gave birth to a civilization that relates to the Yakkha tribe. The clan takes pride in serving, even in the King's Army. Veddas worship dead ancestors and their religion is based on Animism -  a belief that non-human entities such as animals, plants, and inanimate objects possess a spiritual essence. However, with the multi-ethnic blend that engulfed the country towards latter years, Veddas started venerating the temple of Kataragama, a site where they believe that God Skanda married a local tribal girl born from their same caste.

We recommend that travelers deviate from the general tourist circuit and explore the Vedda villages scattered with thatched huts. Learn how the jungle-tribe adores mother nature with a lifestyle that has bordered alongside its values. You may even have the opportunity to witness a traditional ear-piercing cry by Veddas who will dance and shower blessings from the gods. Visit the house of the chief and listen as he explains the collective traditions. He might offer you some valuable advice which will surely add to your repertoire of homemade medical treatments.

Vedda Child. Photo Courtesy of Garret Clarke/Flickr

The Vedda tour starts in Kandy, considered the cultural heart of Sri Lanka. It can be added to any of Sodha Travel's private Sri Lanka tours, including The Emerald Isle and Treasures of Sri Lanka.


 

Topics: Sri Lanka, Veddas in Sri Lanka

Allison Sodha

Written by Allison Sodha

As the President of Sodha Travel and India travel expert, Allison is passionate about offering travel tips and destination inspiration. She has curated content for several publications, including Little India, and facilitated panels on sustainable travel in South Asia. Allison is currently the Delhi Destination Expert for AFAR and India Specialist for the Women's Tour Collective.