The Bharatha community of Sri Lanka had a sing-a-long on the 22nd of October at the BMICH Banquet Hall.
(scroll down to view the video)
Close to 500 people attended this function. And the mood was robust and rich in Sri Lankan flavor. The Bharathas are Drividhians, but it is one minority community, even though has its own unique identity is well integrated into the culture of the Island. At the sing-a-long the singers gave equal place to English, Tamil and Sinhala songs. Sinhala Baila was very popular when it was time to dance. The Bharatha community in Sri Lanka love to eat, drink, sing and dance and this was something that stood out very clearly no matter young or old. Pure unfettered spontaneous celebration, of a people from a community that is spread from Colombo moving north along the coast right up to Mannar, and then there are those who live in Galle,Kurunagalle Ratnapura and Badulla. In Colombo the biggest concentration is in the Kotahena area. The most common Bharatha Surnames we see at present are, Paldano, Roche, Devotta, Vas, Carvalho, Motha, D’lmeida, Gomez, Victoria, Miranda, Soris, Fernando, Moraes, Pires, Cruz, Machado, Gonsal and Paiva.
In the distant past the Paravas ( Bharatha is another version of that word) main business was pearl fishing. A book was written in 1948 by John X Motha called a ‘Short history of the Pandyans’ in which he says that the Paravas became rich and important as the pearl-fishing industry was exclusively in their hands. When Mohameddans came to power around the 15th centuary the Paravas were some what pressure due this stronger taking control and the writer John Motha says they lost their hold of the pearl industry. The revolt of the Paravas began in the year 1532, when a Parava woman was insulted and her husband’s ear was torn by a Mohemeddan. The Paravas who were greatly offended by this act plotted a sudden attack on the Mohammadan quarters and killed a great number of them. The retaliation of the Mohammadans was severe.
The Paravas then addressed themselves to Dom Joao de Cruz, a rich Parava merchant of Goa to obtain help from the Portuguese authorities. The Portuguese then took up arms against the Mohameddans and kept the Paravas under their protection on one condition that all Paravas be baptized and converted to Christianity; this happened in 1537.
Today these people lead a very peaceful life on the island. They are very devout Caholics and base their lives very much around the church. Whilst initially they came to the island to do business in the liquor trade, drapasry, phamaceuiticals etc. now there are many in the professions like banker, lawyers, accountants etc.