Photo of Veddah shooting bow and arrow by Wanni
The veddahs are the original (aboriginal) inhabitants of Sri Lanka. When they visit the President they still wear their loincloth and carry an ax on their shoulder. Many still live much as they did. Like most aboriginal communities, however, they have struggled to even maintain. A year back we drove into an aboriginal area and ended up driving straight out. It was actually a bit scary.
That particular community had become seemingly dependent on ‘tourism’. They were there for the people that came in, not because that’s the way they were, and they seemed there a bit out of desperation. And they were actually quite aggressive, tapping on the car, actively soliciting. And carrying axes. We got a bit freaked out and left. I met the veddah chief when I was much much younger and the experience was nothing like that. That was just one experience.
Now, there’s news that a veddah gentleman shot a hospital guard in Kandy after being denied entry. With a bow and arrow. That quite hurts and he shouldn’t have done that, but the story is also a bit funny.
According to the police, the suspect had tried to enter the hospital premises with his bow and arrows and wearing his traditional dress to see his son who is said to be employed at the Kandy Hospital. But the security officer had prevented him from entering the hospital premises and tried to chase him away. (Daily Mirror)
Traditionally, denying admittance is a serious thing. The entire war of the Ramayana was spurred because a sage was denied entry to see Vishnu and cursed the guards. They were reborn as Ravana and Kumbhakarana and had to be killed by Vishnu (Rama) in order to even get their own jobs. So, denying entry is serious shit. In the old days there’d be carnage for that, so one can understand where the impulse to shoot an arrow comes from. I think we’ve all felt like that at some point. One wishes there were a more effective way to file a complaint.