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Tillakaratne, Miniwandeni Pathirannehelage (1967) Customs and institutions connected with the domestic life of the Sinhalese in the Kandyan period. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis attempts to examine the customs and institutions connected with the domestic life of the Sinhalese in the Kandyan period. Chapter I mainly treats of the circumstances under which the Kingdom of Kandy was founded and rose into prominence in course of time, giving rise to a distinct period in the history of Ceylon. This is followed by an analysis of the sources pertaining to our subject. Chapter II is devoted to a study of Sinhalese social structure. Caste was the basis of the Sinhalese social order; this chapter examines the extent to which the interrelations between the castes were governed by rules of conduct laid down by tradition. It also attempts to show that, although rules and restrictions governing such factors as marriage, commensality and occupation tended to insulate castes from each other, there was a considerable degree of inter-caste cooperation in the spheres of social and economic activities. This feature was especially manifest during domestic ceremonial occasions. The commencement of each successive stage in the life of a Sinhalese was marked by a series of ceremonies. Chapter III deals with all such ceremonies a person had to undergo before he thought of marriage. Since marriage was considered to be the most important turning-point in the life of an individual, the whole of Chapter IV is devoted to an examination of the various complex problems connected with it. Chapter V is concerned with another critical juncture of an individual's life namely, illness. Although the Sinhalese recognized that most diseases were due to natural causes and were amenable to ordinary remedies, those diseases which could not be rightly diagnosed were often attributed to supernatural causes. Hence this chapter discusses not only the function of the physician who relied upon the medical substances credited with possessing curative possibilities but also the function of the exorcist who resorted to magic ritual in Combating disease. Chapter VI deals with the subject of death and its attendant ceremonies after discussing the general attitude of society towards old people. This chapter stresses the fact that, although Buddhist monks usually did not play any significant part in Sinhalese ceremonials, which were purely domestic and private in character, they had a definite part to play in the great crisis of death. The conclusion takes a general review of the whole subject and brings out the main results of our investigation.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:00

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