Socio-economic challenges faced by Kinnara people under the modern social transformation

Proceedings of The 2nd International Conference on Social Science, Humanities and Education

Year: 2019


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Socio-economic challenges faced by Kinnara people under the modern social transformation

Geethani Amaratunga



In the Sri Lankan social organization, the ‘Kinnara’ people represents one of the bottom most strata in the Sinhalese caste hierarchy. In the Sri Lankan research literature, this research carries the objective of identifying the cultural features which had been unique to Kinnara community and their transformation in the modern times. Kinnara people had been identified as a tribe by M.D. Raghavan through an anthropological research. A rapid dissociation from those unique cultural features and a swift assimilation into the main society can be well observed.  Therefore the research problem in this research is “What are the modern changes that can be seen among the Kinnara people?”  Case study method was used to identify the current situation of the community. Kinnara people are spread out in the Central, Sabaragamuwa, North-Western and Western provinces.  Even if it’s dispersed in various parts of the country, a considerable population still lives in the hill country.  After taking that into consideration, Central province was used as the field of research.  Within the Sinhalese caste structure, weaving mats was the traditional caste occupation of the Kinnara people. It is known that they cultivated paddy and millet.  But the contemporary Kinnara people do not show any distinctive cultural characteristics. It’s fact that a majority of them are engaged in casual labour for their living. They have disengaged from the traditional dress codes and presently clothe-in accordance to the transformation. Changing of the hereditary occupational surnames in to surnames used by the upper castes also signifies the numerous modern shifts ongoing within the Kinnara people.

Keywords: Social organization, caste hierarchy, caste duties, traditional caste occupation, social transformation.