Serendip, a Paradise Lost
Serendip , meaning paradise, was the name given by Arab traders to Sri Lanka. It was derived from the Persian Sarandip and the Arabic Sarandib.
But the paradise has suffered, if not gone lost in the civil war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),so called Tamil Tigers and the government. The island has been fittingly described as a teardrop, not only on account of its shape.
In hyacinth gurl's Summary of Paradise Lost by John Milton:
For rebelling against God, Satan and his angels have just been driven out of Heaven and into the burning lake of Hell. Satan comforts his followers with the hope of regaining Heaven and mentions that a new world is to be created according to prophesies from Heaven.
Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden...
The ancient kingdoms are named after their respective capitals.The empires of Anaradhapura
(161 BC-1017 AD) with its fabulous buddhist architecture was founded by the Sinhalese
king Dutthaganman from Rohana. In Polonnaruwa
(1070-1215), king Vijabahu ruled the entire island and introduced Buddhism
to the Island.
An intricate irrigational system originating from the third century BC.collected and distributed the monsoon rain water by a complex system of cisterns, dams, channels and terraces, making Sri Lanka the most important rice exporting country in South and South-East Asia of that time.
The Sinhalese rule ended with south Indian princes conquering the whole island.
The invasions and the bad economic situation caused a massive trek of the Sinhalese to the southwest of the island.
The profitable trade in spices and precious stones, which had till then been in the hands of Arabs, did not fail to awaken the greed of the Eurpean discoverers.
The Portuguese period lasted from 1505 to 1658. They named the island Cilão. They built a harbour in Colombo in 1517, and destroyed temples in the area, urging the locals to to convert catholicism.
Following years of struggle against the Portuguese, the Dutch managed to conquer the island and named it Zeylon in 1658.
By the end of the 18th century, the Dutch, weekend by lost wars in Europe, had to submit to the British, who took over without too much of a battle.They called it Ceylon. As in many other colonies, the agriculture was transformed into a mono culture with tea plantations. Large numbers of Tamils were brought in from India to work on the tea plantations.The economy was purely focussed on export, with the infrastructure of new roads and railways designed to transport goods to the harbours.
Ceylon received its independence in 1948. Violence in India and Burma had weekend British resistance towards giving up the golden goose.
In 1948 Ceylon gained independence from Britain, and was later renamed Sri Lanka.
In 1972 Ceylon declared itself a republic. The new era was saluted with a new name: Sri Lanka, meaning "magnificent island".
Chronic of the civil war
In 1956 the government made majority Sinhala the only official language, provoking the minority Tamils, who felt marginalised.
In 1976 some Tamils took up arms against the state, and militant Velupillai Prabhakaran formed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
A full flared ethnic war began in 1983.
By the mid-1980s, the Indian government intervened. In 1984, the Indian military service started training the Tamil Tigers and giving them weapons. Later, they started dropping off food aid. The Sinhalese government complained. The two governments eventually saw eye-to-eye when, in July 1987, they drafted the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement. They agreed to deploy Indian peacekeepers to curb the violence in northern Sri Lanka. India sent troops to enforce truce.
However, the Tamil Tigers attacked the Indian peacekeeping forces, which then retaliated by tracking down Tigers who hadn't yet surrendered their weapons,
Three years of fighting killed 1,000 Indian soldiers. India withdrew, leaving LTTE in control of the northern city of Jaffna.
In 1990 the talks failed, Tigers over-ran police stations in the east, and the "Second Eelam War"started.
A suspected Tiger suicide bomber killed former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in south India 1991. The next year, Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa was killed in a suicide blast. Many years later, the LTTE apologized for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
On December 5, 2002, Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tigers agreed to share authority in a federal system, to end their 19 years of civil war on the island. The common announcement came at the end of four days of peace talks in the Norwegian capital Oslo. Under this deal, the Tamils would have autonomy in the largely Tamil-speaking north and east.
When the tsunami
hit Sri Lanka in 2004, the civil strife was set aside. More than 30,000 people were killed and about 4,000 were missing in the country's worst-ever natural disaster. About two-thirds of the damage was in the northeastern areas of the island, parts of which are Tiger territory. In the aftermath, however, the Tamil Tigers were reportedly preying on tsunami orphans to use as child soldiers, according to UNICEF.
When billions of dollars in foreign aid flowed into the country for tsunami relief, the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission brokered a deal between the Tamil Tiger rebels and the Sinhalese government. The controversial agreement had the groups share responsibility for the money allocated for the disaster's survivors. But, the Sri Lankan Supreme court struck it down.
The civil war has already killed more than 65,000 people since 1983, with hundreds killed and tens of thousands displaced since fighting flared in July this year again.
Heavy artillery fire resumed in northern Sri Lanka hours after peace talks between the government and Tamil Tigers in Geneva collapsed, triggering fears of a deepening civil war.
The government is shipping emergency supplies to Jaffna
, but residents issued ration cards say there is not enough to go around. While rice and lentils are being distributed, milk foods are scarce and the price of essentials such as toothpaste and garlic have soared. Starving the population by forging an artificial famine is a well known weapon in wars.
Demon king Ravan
In the hindu epic Ramayan, the mythological ruler of Lanka, Ravan, was so intelligent that he had 12 heads with corresponding brains. After giving in to lust and abducting Sita, wife of Rama, Lanka was invaded and ravaged by war. In effigies of Ravan, which are kindled at the Dusehra festival throughout India, he has a 13th. head, that of a donkey. The Webster dictionary defines a donkey as a stupid or obstinate fellow; an ass.
The statesmanship of the present day rulers of Sri Lanka of both warring parties displays obvious similarities to their ancestor, the demon king Ravan.