Living Heritage of Sri Lanka

Okanda-Kudimbigala Heritage Reserve

rock pool, Kudumbigala

We will offer field tours to students from Sri Lanka and abroad, a maximum of twenty-five at any given time. The students will be housed in village dwellings, adjacent to where the villagers will live. Students will learn traditional agriculture, conflict resolution, house building, economics, medicine and other oriental arts and sciences from native gurus while assisting in an on-going study of field biology and cultural anthropology conducted by western researchers.

Field biology will include field identification, map making, scientific report writing, behavioral observation techniques, aging techniques and population modeling.

Cultural anthropology will include census taking, charting kinship, open-ended interviewing, participant observation, collecting life histories, using personal documentation and content analysis of oral history/folklore/mythology, recording them on film, audio and video tapes.

There will be an office at Pottuvil to service the Okanda-Kudimbigala Heritage Reserve (a distance of about 32 km) and an office in Colombo will co-ordinate the field as well as maintain and store all records and data.

The distance from Pottuvil to Panama is 16 km and is motorable. A further 16 km on a jeep track brings us to Okanda. By boat the journey from Arugam Bay to Okanda takes an hour and a half.

Hardly anyone lives in the area during the year, although many thousands arrive during the time of the festival in July.

Not since Rabindaranath Tagore founded Shantiniketan in India has such a programme been undertaken, a programme designed to teach future generations the value of their own culture in the global context.

We believe that the Okanda-Kudimbigala Heritage Reserve will be a watershed in the transformation of Sri Lanka. This project can preserve both culture and environment while creating an awareness that will result in a region rife with conflict to again become a treasure trove of cultural harmony, organic produce, traditional medicinal systems, temple-based cottage crafts and Sri Lanka's indigenous lifestyle.

With growing global environmental consciousness this region can soon become a 'model theocracy' with consensus governing and a variety of rewards that can satisfy growing aspirations and needs based on cause and effect. All that is required on our part is networking, motivation, commitment, co-ordination, institutional strengthening and finally marketing.