Sinhalese people

The Sinhalese are the majority ethnic group of Sri Lanka, constituting 74% of the Sri Lankan population. They speak Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language, and number approximately 14 million in the world.[13] They live mainly in central, south and west Sri Lanka. According to legend they are the descendants of the exiled Prince Vijaya who arrived to Sri Lanka in 5 BCE. The Sinhalese identity is based on language, heritage and religion. The vast majority of Sinhalese are Theravada Buddhists.Contents [hide]1Etymology2History2.1Ancient history2.2Medieval history2.3Modern history3Culture3.1Language3.2Literatur3.3Dress3.4Religion4Education5Geographic distribution5.1In Sri Lanka5.2Outside Sri Lanka5.2.1Australia5.2.2Canada5.2.3India5.2.4Italy5.2.5New Zealan5.2.6United Kingdom5.2.7United States6Genetic Studies7See als8References9Other references10External links // [edit]Etymology The Sinhalese are also known as "Hela" or "Sinhala". These synonyms find their origins in the two words Sinha (meaning "lion") and Hela (meaning "pristine"). The name Sinhala translates to "lion people" and refers to the myths regarding the descent of the legendary founder of the Sinhalese people, the prince Vijaya. The royal dynasty from ancient times on the island was the Sinha (Lion) royal dynasty and the word Sinha finds its origins here.[edit]History See also: History of Sri Lanka, Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa, and Culavamsa[edit]Ancient history The origin legend and early recorded history of the Buddhist Sinhalese is chronicled in two documents, the Mahavamsa, written in Pāli around the 4th century BC, and the much later Chulavamsa (probably penned in the 13 century CE by the Buddhist monk Dhammakitti). These are ancient sources which cover the histories of the powerful ancient kingdoms of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. The Mahavansa describes the existence of fields of rice and reservoirs, indicating a well developed agrarian society. The oral tradition of the Sinhalese people also speaks of many royal dynasties prior to the Sinha royal dynasty: Manu, Tharaka, Mahabali, Raavana, etc. According to the Mahavamsa, the Sinhalese are descended from the exiled Prince Vijaya and his party of seven hundred followers who arrived on the island at 543 BCE. Vijaya and his followers were said to have arrived in Sri Lanka after being exiled from the city of Sinhapura in Bengal, North East India.[14]Buddhism is then said to have been introduced to the Sinhalese from India by Mahinda, son of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka the Great, during the 3rd century BC. The historical accuracy of the Mahavansa prior to the death of Ashoka is not considered to be trustworthy and so whether the story of Vijaya and Mahinda is true is debated. See Historical accuracy of the Mahavamsa.[edit]Medieval history See also: Medieval history of Sri Lanka During the middle ages Sri Lanka was divided into three independent kingdoms; Jaffna kingdom, Kotte kingdom and Kandyan kingdom. Parakramabahu VI was the only Sinhalese king during this time who had control of the whole island. The invasion by Magha in the 13th century lead to the establishment of the Jaffna kingdom and forced the Sinhalese to abandon their ancient centres, such as Anuradhapura and Polonnaruva, and live in the South-West of Sri Lanka. This lead to deterioration of the irrigation works in the dry zones of Sri Lanka, as the new Wet zones were ideal for cultivation. This migration was followed by a period of conflict among the Sinhalese chiefs who tried to exert political supremacy. Trade also increased during this period, as Sri Lanka began to trade Cinammon and a large number of muslim traders were bought into the island. [15] In the 15th Century a Kandyan Kingdom formed which divided the Sinhalese politically into low-country and up-country.[15][edit]Modern history The Sinhalese have a stable birth rate and a population that has been growing at a slow pace relative to India and other Asian countries.[edit]Culture Main article: Culture of Sri Lanka Sinhalese culture features a wide variety of folk beliefs and rituals traditionally. Folk poems were sung by workers of various trades in the past to accompany their work and narrate the story of their lives. ideally these poems consisted of four lines and in the composition of these poems, special attention had been payed to the rhyming patterns of the poem. Buddhist festivals are dotted by unique music using traditionally Sinhala instruments. More ancient rituals like tovils (Devil exorcism) continue to enthrall audiences today and often praised and admired the good and the power of Buddha and gods in order to exorcise the demons. Concerning popular music, Ananda Samarakoon developed the reflective and poignant Sarala gee style with his work in the late 1930s/early 1940s. He has been followed by artists of repute such as W. D. Amaradeva, Nanda Malini, Victor Ratnayake, T. M. Jayaratne, Sanath Nandasiri, Sunil Edirisinghe, Neela Wickremasinghe, Gunadasa Kapuge, Malini Bulathsinghala and Edward Jayakody. Dramatist Ediriweera Sarachchandra revitalized the drama form with Maname in 1956. Also the same year, film director Lester James Peries created the artistic masterwork Rekava which sought to create a uniquely Sinhala cinema with artistic integrity. Since then, Peries and other directors like Vasantha Obeysekera, Dharmasena Pathiraja, Mahagama Sekera, W. A. B. de Silva, Sunil Ariyaratne, Siri Gunasinghe, G. D. L. Perera, Piyasiri Gunaratne, Titus Thotawatte, D. B. Nihalsinghe, Ranjith Lal, Dayananda Gunawardena, Mudalinayake Somaratne and Prasanna Vithanage have developed an artistic Sinhala cinema. Sinhala cinema is often made colorful by the incorporation of songs and dance adding more uniqueness to the industry.[edit]Language Main article: Sinhala languageCensured photography of a poster in Sinhala script for GCEAdvanced LevelPolitical sciencetuition class in Matale. The main text (in blue) reads dēśapālana vidyāva Jayasēna Beligala. The first two words mean "political science", the latter two are the tutor's name. The Sinhalese speak Sinhala, also known as "Helabasa"; this language has two varieties, spoken and written. Sinhala is an Indo-Aryan language[13] brought to Sri Lanka by North East Indians who settled on the island in the fifth century.[16][17] Sinhala developed in a way different from the other Indo-Aryan languages because of the geographic separation from its Indo-Aryan sister languages. Sinhala was influenced by many languages, prominently Pali, the sacred language of Southern Buddhism, and Sanskrit. Many early Sinhala texts such as the Hela Atuwa were lost after their translation into Pali. Other significant Sinhala texts include Amāvatura, Kavu Silumina, Jathaka Potha and Sala Liheeniya. Sinhala has also borrowed words from Dravidian languages of South India and the colonial languages Portuguese, Dutch, and English.[18][edit]Literature Main articles: Sri Lankan literature and Sinhalese literature Sinhala literature dates back to antiquity with the Mahavamsa and the Culavamsa. Buddhism (which was a later development of Hinduism) did not overtake Hinduism in India, but Sri Lanka (and the Sinhalese) converted to Buddhist culture through history remaining a centre of Buddhist scholarly activities. Folk tales like Mahadana Mutha saha Golayo and Kawate Andare continue to entertain children today. Mahadana Mutha tells the tale of a fool cum Pandit who travels around the country with his followers (Golayo) creating mischief through his ignorance. Kawate Andare tells the tale of a witty court jester and his interactions with the royal court and his son. In the Modern period, Sinhala writers such as Martin Wickremasinghe and G. B. Senanayake have drawn widespread acclaim. Other writers of repute include Mahagama Sekera and Madewela S. Ratnayake. Martin Wickramasinghe wrote the immensely popular children's novel Madol Duwa. Munadasa Cumaratunga's Hath Pana is also widely known.[edit]Dress Traditionally during recreation the Sinhalese wear a sarong, (sarama in Sinhala). Men may wear a long sleeved shirt with the sarong, while women wear a tight-fitting, short-sleeved jacket with a wrap-around called the 'cheeththaya'. In the more populated areas, the Sinhalese men also wear Western-style clothing wearing suits while the women wear skirts and blouses. However for formal and ceremonial occasions women wear the traditional Kandyan (Osaria) style, which consists of a full blouse which covers the midriff completely, and is partially tucked in at the front. However, modern intermingling of styles has led to most wearers baring the midriff. The Kandyan style is considered as the national dress of Sinhalese women. In many occasions and functions, even the 'saree' plays an important role in women's clothing and has become the de facto clothing for female office workers especially in government sector. An example of its use is the Uniform of air hostesses of Sri Lankan Airlines.[18][edit]Religion Main article: Buddhism in Sri LankaThe Buddha statue at Mihintale. Most of the Sinhalese follow the Theravada school of Buddhism. In 1988 almost 93% of the sinhalese speaking population in Sri Lanka were buddhist.[19] Sinhalese Buddhists include various religious elements from Hinduism in their religious practices and ancient indigenous traditions of godlings and demons, which are native to the island.[18][20][21] Sinhalese Buddhists worship Hindu gods such as Vishnu, who has a special place in their religious practices, since he is entrusted with both protecting Buddhism in the island and the island itself. He is also recognised as bodhisattva, or "awakening being" to Sinhalese Buddhists.[20][21] Prominent Sri Lankan anthropologists Gananath Obeyesekere and Kitsiri Malalgoda used the term "Protestant Buddhism" to describe a type of buddhism that appeared among the sinhalese in Sri Lanka as a response to Protestant Christianmissionaries and their evangelical activities during the British colonial period. This kind of Buddhism involved emulating the Protestant method of converting, by the establishment of Buddhist schools and Buddhist organizations such as the Young Men's Buddhist Association. As well as printing pamphlets to encourage people to participate in debates and religious controversies to defend Buddhism.[22] There is also a siginifiant Sinhalese Christian community, in the maritime provinces of Sri Lanka.[18] Christianity was brought to the Sinhalese by Portuguese, Dutch, and British missionary groups during their respective periods of rule.[23] Sinhalese Christians mainly follow Roman Catholicism, followed by Protestantism.[19] Their cultural centre is Negombo. Religion is considered very important among the Sinhalese. According to a 2008 Gallup poll, 99% of Sri Lankans considered religion an important aspect of their daily lives.[24][edit]Education Main article: Education in Sri Lanka The Sinhalese have a long history of literacy and formal learning. Instruction in basic fields like writing and reading by Buddhist Monks pre-date the birth of Christ. This traditional system followed religious rule and was meant to foster Buddhist understanding. Training of officials in such skills as keeping track of revenue and other records for administrative purposes occurred under this institution.[25] Technical education such as the building of reservoirs and canals was passed down from generation to generation through home training and outside craft apprenticeships.[25] The arrival of the Portuguese and Dutch and the subsequent colonization maintained religion as the center of education though in certain communities under Catholic and Presbyterian hierarchy. The British in the 1800s initially followed the same course. Following 1870 however they began a campaign for better education facilities in the region. Christian missionary groups were at the forefront of this development contributing to a high literacy among Christians.[25] By 1901 schools in the South and the North were well tended. The inner regions lagged behind however. Also, English education facilities presented hurdles for the general populace through fees and lack of access.[25][edit]Geographic distribution[edit]In Sri LankaPercentage of Sinhalese people per district based on 2001 or 1981 (cursive) census. Within Sri Lanka the majority of the Sinhalese reside in the south, central and western parts of the country. This districts with the largest sinhalese populations in Sri Lanka (>90%) are Hambantota, Galle, Gampaha, Kurunegala, Moneragala and Polonnaruwa.[26][edit]Outside Sri Lanka As with many of the people from former colonies, Sinhalese have emigrated to several countries. There are small communities in the UK, Australia, United States and Canada with Sinhalese ancestry. In addition to this there are many Sinhalese, who reside in the above mentioned countries and countries in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Europe, temporarily in connection with empolyment and education. They are often employed as guest workers in the Middle East and professionals in the other regions.[edit]Australia Main article: Sri Lankan Australian The 2006 Census in Australia found that there were approximately 29,055 Sinhalese Australians (0.1 percent of the population). That was an addition of 8,395 Sinhalese Australians (a 40.6 percent increase) from the 2001 Census. There are 73,849 Australians (0.4 of the population) who reported having Sinhalese ancestry in 2006. This was 26 percent more in 2001, in which 58,602 Australia reported having Sinhalese ancestry. The census is counted by Sri Lankans who speak the Sinhalese language at home. Census data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2004 reported that Sinhalese Australians are by religion 29.7 percent Catholic; 8.0 percent Anglican, 9.9% other Christian; 46.9 percent "Other Religions" (mainly Buddhist), and 5.5 percent no religion. The Sinhalese language was also reported to be the 29th-fastest-growing language in Australia (ranking above Somali but behind Hindi and Belarusian). Sinhalese Australians have an exceptionally low rate of return migration to Sri Lanka. In December 2001, the Department of Foreign Affairs estimated that there were 800 Australian citizens resident in Sri Lanka. It is unclear whether these were returning Sri Lankan emigrants with Australian citizenship, their Sri Lankan Australian children, or other Australians present on business or for some other reason.