Profile: Veddah Gunabandiyale Aththo

BY MAHINDA JEEVANANDA

Gunabandiyale Aththo is the brother of the present chieftain Uruwarige Wanniyale Attho of the Indigenous (Veddah) community of Sri Lanka – 300 km from Colombo at the remote jungle village of Dambana. Being descendants with a history dating back to 16000 BC and the ‘Vedda’ community presently comprises of around 350 families and was originally hunter-gatherers using bow and arrow to hunt games, and also gathered wild plants and honey.

Gaya: When I worked with Mahinda Jeevananda he was an Art Director at Grant McCann-Erickson and did not click a camera that often (at least not one that I knew of).  As Sri Lanka emerged from the no-travel-zone wartimes and people started moving around and gazing at the country they little knew, Mahinda Aiya took some glorious shots of the Jaffna Fort.  When I saw em I asked him whether he was into photography and it was his fervour and knowledge of the history of Sri Lanka that surprised me.  Did I know my countrymen?  Has the space for peaceful travel in our country made us evolve and realise our passion for photography, documenting communities and being out on a limb? Maybe Mahinda Aiya was all these things and I didn’t know him well. But now on the digital media he shares his work which should be on display in a gallery. iSrilankan would love to bring you  Mahinda Jeevananda’s Sri Lanka in the times ahead.

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