Sinhalese vs. Tamil


Sinhalese and Tamil races are the two predominant demographic divisions in Sri Lankan society. While there is a history of political strife between the two races, the Sri Lankan government defeated Tamil guerrillas in 2009 to stamp out the Tamil secessionist movement.

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Geographical distribution Sinhalese live in the Central, Western and Southern parts of Sri Lanka. It is alleged that in the late 20th century(and in 2002 during cease fire) , the LTTE drove out the Sinhalese population from North and East. Tamils live in the State of Tamil Nadu in India, Northern and eastern region of Sri Lanka and as Diasporas all around the world.and 2/3 of Tamil population in Sri Lanka are living alongside with Sinhalese in south and central part of sri lanka
Religion A majority of Sinhalese people adhere to Theravada Buddhism. There is also a Christian minority. A majority of Tamils are Hindus with a significant minority practicing Christianity or Islam, and a small minority practicing Buddhism, Jainism and atheism.
Population 150 lakhs (15 million) 10 crore (100 million) people speak Tamil as their mother tongue. In Sri Lanka, the Tamil population is about 5 million or about 15% of the total population.
Language Sinhalese people speak Sinhala. Tamils speak Tamil.
Traditional Dress The traditional dress of the Sinhalese people includes Sarong and Kandyan. The traditional dress of Tamil Women is sari and men is Shirt and Dhoti.
Ancient History and origin Sinhalese language and culture came from North India, probably Bengal as Mahavamsa says. But Hela ethnic groups were living on the island and are the aboriginal inhabitants. It is unclear how the Tamils came to Sri Lanka. Some suggest that they came from Southern India, while others suggest that they descend from the ancient Yakkhas and Nagas of Sri Lanka. As a Dravidian language, Tamil descends from Proto-Dravidian.

Contents: Sinhalese vs Tamil

edit Origins of Sinhalese and Tamil populations

Sinhalese people inhabit Sri Lanka and are the main ethnic group that make up about 74% of the total population of Sri Lanka. They are also referred to as the Hela, or Sinhala; the word Sinhala, meaning “lion people”. According to popular mythology, the Sinhalese people are descendants from the followers of Prince Vijaya who served exile (from 543-483 BC) in Sri Lanka and hailed from a North Eastern Indian kingdom called Singhapur (Modern day Singhur, West Bengal). Genetic studies have shown that the origins of the Sinhalese people lie mainly in West Bengal and South India, with links also to native 'Hela' tribes.

Tamils are a minority group residing in Sri Lanka (the majority of Tamils actually live in India in the state of Tamil Nadu) who predominantly migrated to the island as traders or invaders from South Indian Chola kingdom. They settled in north and eastern parts of the Sri Lankan island. Most Sri-Lankan Tamils are descendants from Chola Kingdom.

edit Geographical Distribution of Tamils and Sinhalese

The Sinhalese occupy the Central, Western and Southern parts of the island. The majority of Tamils live in the Northern and Eastern Province and there is a Tamil and Sinhalese minority all over the island nation.

edit Political Strife for a separate Tamil state

The relation between the Sinhalese and Sri-Lankan Tamils has been strained since Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain in 1948, which ensued at the time when the nation’s constitution was being drawn. The introduction of the Sinhala-only act in 1956 triggered riots in Sri Lanka. Further discrimination against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka in cultural, political, economic areas led to some Tamils harboring resentment against the Sinhalese groups and the Government.

Militant groups demanding independence for Tamils known as TNT and later as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) formed in 1972. Since then, many Sinhalese and Tamils have been caught in this conflict and killed. The start of the civil war is said to have been in the July of 1983 with a deadly attack by LTTE on the Sri Lankan army. Many peace talks failed between the government and LTTE. From 1983 till the end of the civil war in 2009, there continued many offensive attacks both by LTTE and the Sri Lankan army. Attack by suicide bombers had become a trademark of the LTTE. This war forced many Tamils to find new homes in other countries like Canada and Australia.

In 2009, the Sri Lankan government mounted a concerted effort to use armed forces to eliminate the LTTE and their terrorism. While they were successful, there have been several allegations of human rights abuses by the Sri Lankan government. The war also resulted in thousands of Sri Lankan Tamil civilians being killed or displaced from their homes and pushed into refugee camps in other regions.[1] The rights of Tamils (refugees and otherwise) continues to be an important diplomatic issue the Sri Lankan government is dealing with.

edit Differences in Language

Sinhalese people speak Sinhala, an Indo-Aryan language also known as “Helabasa” and have two varieties, written and spoken. This language is influenced by Pali and Sanskrit. Tamils speak the language Tamil, which is a Dravidian language.

edit Differences in Religion

Sinhalese people follow the Buddhist Faith (Theravada School), which was introduced to them by Ashoka’s son Mahinda during the 3rd century BC. Though the majority of Sinhalese are Buddhists, a significant number are also Christians, due to the Portuguese, Dutch and British influence on the island. Tamils are mostly Hindus, with a significant Christian population.

edit Cultural Differences

Sinhalese culture encompasses many rituals and tradition which are greatly influenced by Buddhist festivals. A majority of Sri Lankan Tamils follow Hindu customs and traditions similar to south Indian rituals.

edit Traditional Dress

The tradition dress for Sinhalese is sarong and Kandyan for more formal occasions. Men wear a shirt with sarong, and women wear a sari (called Osari). The traditional dress of Sri Lankan Tamils is the sari, worn with a blouse and petticoat.

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Comments: Sinhalese vs Tamil

Anonymous comments (9)

April 17, 2013, 3:18pm

In pre-ice age times Sri Lanka was an extension of Tamil Nadu. All other races came there from far and were not natives of the place. Tamils would be the closest race to the natives of the island. While Sinhalese have been there for some time, their look and make up does not resemble peoples of hot tropical island. Western history has distorted so much around the world and has caused many wars.

— 115.✗.✗.166

December 5, 2012, 7:47am

Who ever claims that Eela Tamils are from India and are Indian Tamils then i urge them to go look into genetic studies done by your own genetic experts on the island and understand that the two races are distinct from one another. I think everyone should stop basing history on tales and myths like the pali chronicles and actually examine it through the Archaeological and genetic method. Why are there Tamil temples built on the coastal regions of Sri Lanka predating the 5th century b.c? Why are there Tamil Brahmi inscriptions beside Buddhist monasteries? Is it possible maybe that the language Tamil is alone thousands of years older than the Sinhalese language? Who is to say what language the kings listed in the mahavamsa actually spoke? Open your eyes and understand things from another perspective and maybe you should realize that the Sinhalese race is ascending into Barbarism that would go against the fundamental principles of Theravada Buddhism that the great Lord Buddha himself preached. Treat your neighbor like how you would like to be treated maybe then they will treat you the same way. Let their be peace in the island.

— 134.✗.✗.12

May 6, 2012, 1:46am

Honestly, the Tamils may have many but they deserve their own state just as much as the Sinhalese. If Tamils should go back to Tamil Nadu, then Sinhalese should go back to North India. I mean, seriously, it's not like Tamils want to get rid of the Sinhalese. The Tamils just want to live in harmony in their country without external conflict and discrimination. Be fair. How do you think Tamils feel when they go back to their home country (Sri Lanka) and can't communicate or are discriminated against because of their language? Look at India, there are several hundreds of languages in India. Don't you feel ashamed? Sri Lankans can't make it work with only TWO languages.

— 122.✗.✗.128

May 28, 2014, 2:22pm

Sinhalese manipulating history true story how Sinhalese destroyed Hindu Temples. and killed Tamils in 1988 go to

— 66.✗.✗.20

November 13, 2013, 1:53am

I just want to say that I'm tamil and sinhala are stupid to kill tamils like animals

— 66.✗.✗.149

July 29, 2012, 9:43pm

The person who wrote this is stupid ! The sri lankan tamils are native to sri lanka as well. They didn't come from south india although they have settled and mixed with the sinhalese and sri lankn tamils along with the bengalis. The sri lankan tamils and sinhalese are predominately related to the veddas. The veddas spoke elu which is a proto - dravidian language. The veddas are also related to the Dravidian race . Sri Lankans should be united, we are all human beings end of the day !

— 92.✗.✗.237

July 9, 2012, 1:10pm

How are Tamils from India? get your facts right, only a handful of Indian Tamils were brought in as tea plantation workers, the majority of us have been living in Sri Lanka since the 2nd century, there is no evidence of a Tamil Kingdom until 757 years ago but evidence suggest that tamils have been living in Sri Lanka since the second century which is way before the Sinhalese arrived. And why on earth would people from Tamil nadu migrate to northern and eastern Sri lanka which is arid and has lack of fresh water? its stupid that you people would think that, Tamils and Sinhalese can never live together because Sinhalese think they are better than Tamils and close their eyes and laugh when Tamil civilians are getting slaughtered by government soldiers.

— 31.✗.✗.110

June 5, 2014, 10:03pm

i dnt knw hw u people hv been fooled... in silapathigaram which dates 5th century bc it states abt naga people in srilanka and it says they spoke different dialect of tamil... sinhalese were the one who invaded actually nt invaded came here as refugees... if tamils only invaded by 1300 y there was tamil inscriptions dated around 3rd century bc?? hv a common sense.. u guys hv inferiority complex and afaraid of tamils...

— 117.✗.✗.153

July 1, 2013, 7:53am

Tamil-nadu did not even exist in pre-ice era. Have you gone nuts?

— 165.✗.✗.60


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Ethnicity vs. Race