A study on the indigenous people of Mannar and Mathoddam

The Mannar district, which is situated in the North-West of Sri-Lanka, is a part of Northern Province. It is also noted that Mannar district is very prominent in Sri-Lankan history. This district is surrounded by Puttalam district in the South, the district of Anuradhapuram in the South -East, Vavuniya district in the East, Mullaithevu district in the North-East, Kilinochy district in the North and the large coastal area in the Western part of the district.

It is true that there was a river in between the Island of Mannar and the Mainland. This river was called Mann-Aru (kz; MW) 1, that is, the colour of the river seemed to be the colour of the sand. That was why the people called the river Mann-Aru. The name of the river became the name of the place. In earlier times the name Mannar was referred only to the Island of Mannar and Mantota or Manthai. Afterwards it was divided into Divisional Secretariat and A.G.A Divisions. Presently Mannar, Nanattan and Musaly are D.S Divisions and Madhu and Manthai West are A.G.A. Divisions. Nearly 88% of the total land area of the Mannar district is in the Mainland.

The main source of income of the people of the district is from cultivation, fishing and animal husbandry. It is to be noted that 70% of the population is engaged in cultivation, 25% in fishing, while the balance 5% is involved in other activities.2

In the mainland, Manthai was called in many names such as Mahathithapattanam, Eailpattanam, Mathoddam, Montota, Mahagama and Rajarapuram. Mahavansa speaks that this Manthai was an ancient urban city mainly occupaied by Tamils most probably the Kurukula people. The most of the Kurukula people of Mantota are from the royal families. The kith and kens of Singhe (rpq;if)dynasty families are still living in Mannar and in Manthai.3 Avurampillai Rosairo Ethirmanasinghe families and Avurampillai Banjamin Ethirmannasinghe families of Periyanavathulam are the Singhe dynasty families in Mathoddam. Some of the Kandian royal families were also brought there by Portuguese.4During the pre-Buddhist period Mahatittha gradually grew a commercial and administrative centre and a sacred place for Hindus. The Kshatriyas of Matottam were related to the Kshatrias of Anuradhapura, Kalaniya and Kathargamam from a very early time.5

Even though there are few fishing villages such as Thalaimannar, Pesalai, Thalvupadu, Pallimunai, Vankalai, Arippu, and Mullikulam, most of the mainland villages are agricultural villages. The Parathavars are occupied in most of the fishing villages. The Kaurava Kurukula people are occupied in most of agricultural villages, such as Periyanagatkulam,Manthai, Ellupitty, Kallikadaikadu, , Parapankandal, Periyapandivirichan, Naruvilikulam, Thirupuri, Mallikainatti, Mathirikeramam, Vanchiyankulam Puthukamam, Thuvarankany, Paddipithanmadhu, Muthalaikuthi, Uiylankulam, Uitharasankulam, Kathankulam, Palaikuli, Sooriyakaddaikadu, Valkaipattankandal, Parikarikandal, Perichakaddu, Kannaddy, Murunkan, Murunkanpitty, pallakaman, Sirukandal, pichakulam, Jeevootham, Periyakunchukulam, Periyamurippu,Sinna kadai , Mannar and so on.

Yalpana Vaipava Kaumuthi, written by Velupallai says that the Kaurava Kurukula people are the highest caste (FUFyNkd;kf;fs;).6 These Kurukula people (Kurukula Maynmakkal) who dwell in more than 40 villages in Mannar and in Manthai are largely agriculturalists from ancient times onwards.7


By: Rev.Fr.M.G.Arulpragasam B.A Hons, Dip.in Education




1. Velupillai.K., “Jalpana Vaipava Maumuthy.” (1918):8 Thanapachiyam.K.:Maddakalappu Manmiyam.” (1993):3
2. Statistical report of Mannar 2005
3, Puvirajasingha.J., “The Singhe Dynasty in Jaffna Pattam”: (1968):76
4. Interview: Mr. S Leo Ethirmannasinghe, retired Statistical officer Jaffna Kachckari.
5. Ellawala.H., “Social History of Early Ceylon”: (1969): 20
6. Velupillai .K.,”Yalpana Vaipava Kaumuthy.” (1993):177-181
7. Raghavan M.D. “Tamil culture In Ceylon.” (1968):143

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