Sri Lankan gypsies: Story of another forgotten unique community

Sri Lankan gypsies: Story of another forgotten unique community

Written by Staff Writer

19 Jun, 2019 | 6:19 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st) – This is the story of a forgotten community in the far east of the island, who had been battered by nature, poverty and other issues of life. Fortune telling, palm reading, snake charming and monkey performances are the main livelihoods of the people in Sri Vallipuram in Thirukkovil, Ampara.

Chinnasamy, who has been engaged in these fields since childhood is confined to his village due to the low turnout of tourists in the island. He is clueless on the future of his baby monkeys as he has nowhere to take them to perform soon as they grow up.

In this age of technology, the practice of fortune telling will soon be extinct along with the lives of the villagers who earn a handful by this ancient practice passed down from generation to generation.

A mother spoke out her difficulties, in the Telugu Language which is unique to their community. Joseph Raja’s family in Shreevallipuram is one of the 25 families who live in their single room houses. Today Joseph Raja is faced with a tremendous struggle to feed his 8, 10 and 17-year-old children after the breadwinner of the family, his 18-year son Raja Kumara was killed in a lightning strike. The unavailability of a national identity card is another major obstacle they all have as they are deprived of their son’s compensation.

A childhood fire accident rendered Joseph Raja’s body incapable of performing day to day activities and was forced to engage in fishing. But despite all the hardships he goes through daily, Joseph Raja has managed to pay off Rs. 40,000 out of the Rs. 120,000 that he spent on building his house.

The eldest daughter 17-year-old Raja Madushani’s education reached its peak in Grade 5 as she quit schooling due to poverty. Madhushani is now both a sister and a mother of her siblings as their mother is desperate and begs in towns to make a living while her father is a fisherman by day to make ends meet.

Joseph Raja’s only dream is to see his children’s future brighten to prosper in life.


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