Friday, October 17, 2008


Colombo Chetties are legitimate citizens of Sri Lanka
The Colombo Chetty Association of Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka Situ Sangamaya), at its Executive Committee meeting held recently, expressed deep concern about the recent statement attributed to the Army Commander Major General Sarath de Fonseka regarding the rights of minorities in Sri Lanka.

We are disappointed that to date he has made no denial or correction to the statement. We are also concerned that no reassuring statement has so far been issued by leaders of the majority community in Sri Lanka on the issue.

The Colombo Chetties, who are also referred to in historical records as Situ, Vaisya Setthi or Sitana, are an ancient community that has contributed immensely towards the socio-economic growth and progress of Sri Lanka. Their earliest settlements in Sri Lanka, according to historical records, dates back to over 2500 years.

Their contribution to the advent of Buddhism in Sri Lanka is an enviable fact that we are proud of. As mentioned by many historians, the seven brothers of Queen Videshi Devi, who were also the uncles of Prince Mahinda and Princess Sangamitta who arrived in Anuradhapura to prorogate Buddhism, were sons of Dev Setthi of Avanthi.

King Vasaba (BC 65-100), who inaugurated the Lambakaranna dynasty in Sri Lanka that ruled for over 350 years, was a descendant of Prince Sumitta, who was one of them. Even as the recent history of Kotte (1400-1521, mention has been made about Vira Nissanka Alakeswara and Sembha Perumal (Sapumal Kumaraya, belonged to our community.

The Colombo Chetties have long lived in close association and harmony with the major and smaller communities for aeons of time in Sri Lanka. They have at no time made any demands for an exalted place in the political structure of Sri Lanka, in ancient or modern times. More importantly, their loyalty to Sri Lanka has never been called into question. Although classified as a minority community due to paucity of our numbers, the welter of their contribution to the well-being of Sri Lanka, since ancient times to the present day, has legitimized our rights as inalienable citizens of this country.

We firmly believe that Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-linguistic, mulri-religious and multi-cultural country and that all communities, including the Colombo Chetties, are an integral part of the fascinating mosaic that constitute Sri Lanka of today, drawing deeply from the founts of its ancient well springs of diverse cultures.

Shirley P. Tissera
President Sri Lanka Chetty Association of Sri Lanka (Sri Lanka Situ Sangamaya)


No comments: