Assimilation by Sinhalese with Tamils has also been one of the main reasons for vanishing the Sinhala civilization from the North and Eastern parts of the country. Due to the mass scale migration of Sinhalese to the southern parts of the country, Sinhalese population became a tiny minority in the areas which were the original place of living of Sinhalese before settling of a majority of Tamils by colonial powers starting from Portuguese in the North and East.
There are innumerable evidences of existence of a flourishing Sinhalese civilization in NE from time immemorial. They include vast number of Buddhist places of worship, their ruins and other monuments, large number of inscriptions, tanks and irrigation works, the original Sinhala place names (now Tamilinized) and the evidences from the chronicles. Apart from all these evidences the accounts by civil servants of the colonial governments who ruled Sri Lanka provide a wealth of evidences too.
As an article appeared in the Island paper on 02nd May 2009 written by professor Prof. Shantha K. Hennayake of the University of Peradeniya points out assimilation by Sinhalese to Tamils have been one of the major reasons for depopulation of Sinhalese from NE. This disqualifies the popular belief that it was the Tamils who have been acculturated into the Sinhalese society
The article also includes lamentation by Mr Lushington, an Assistant Government Agent of the British colonial government over the vanishing Sinhala civilization from the North and east.
Some parts of the article are quoted as below
"It is clear the process of depopulation of the Sinhalese in sparsly populated Dry Zone had started even before the advent of the British and continued well into the early years of the 20th century. This was followed by the simultaneous infiltration of Tamils and Muslims from their populous pockets located along the eastern coast and also from Jaffna in the case of the former.
One of the most significant, yet hardly investigated or discussed facts about the changes in the ethnic population in the sparsely populated periphery is not one of spatial but sociological. It is a striking feature to observe, contrary to the popular and cultivated view held by both the Sinhalese and Tamils, that Tamils have been acculturated into the Sinhalese society, that the Sinhalese peasants who remained behind in the isolated rural villages in the Dry Zone periphery were in fact increasingly getting assimilated into the Tamil community. Then Assistant Government Agent Mr Lushington lucidly elaborated this process in his 1898 Administration Report:
'This part of the District (Kaddukulam West) is inhabited by Sinhalese villagers of Kandyan descent forming an outlying community which is, I fear rapidly dying out or becoming effaced.
This District is most interesting, being dotted over by numerous village tanks, some of which are restored and others abandoned„ The villagers retain many of the primitive customs of the Kandyans, but they are rapidly becoming 'Tamilized', which is a great pity. They inter- marry with Tamils and many of them speak Tamil as well as they speak Sinhalese. Even the Government School Master is Tamil and only that language is taught in the only school and unfortunately in some cases lands in Sinhalese villages have been bought out by the Tamils, who now own all the paddy lands of some villages. The Sinhalese have given up their patronymics and adopted the Tamil custom of perfexing father's name instead of the usual patronymic and even the names of the villages are assuming a Tamil dress.
This perhaps not to be wondered at when the interpreters of the court and the Kachcheri, the petition drawers and all through whom the villagers have access to Government officers, can speak nothing but Tamil.'
This is also the self admission by the British rulers that they were using the Tamils over the Sinhalese in government positions in these areas.
It can be safely argued that this process of assimilation was not limited only to the villages that came to the attention of the AGA in 1898. This process perhaps had been happening all along the interior and maritime areas of the north and east. At the same time, it can be confidently argued that this process might have started several centuries prior to Lushington's observations and no doubt that it continued even after that. Although we lack documentary evidence for the earlier period, even as late as 1911, Denham (1912) observed: "The Sinhalese villagers of Kaddukulam Pattu appears to be decreasing in number or to become merged in the Tamil population."
Thus one can identify three mutually related processes happening in the sparsely populated Dry Zone periphery, which includes most of the present Eastern Province and southern Districts of the present Northern Province.
1. Economic Processes:
The Tamils and the Muslims who were concentrated in the economic centres of the Northern and especially the Eastern Province and to the same extent in Colombo have bought both the developed and undeveloped lands in the interior parts of the periphery, especially in the Eastern Province. Some of these lands were earlier in the possession of the Sinhalese.
2. Spatial Demographic Processes;
More and more Tamils from the Jaffna peninsula and other concentrations in the Eastern Province moved into the interior areas that had been traditionally owned and occupied by the Sinhalese.
3. Sociological Processes:
The Sinhalese living in the isolated settlements or those that came to be located among the Tamil settlements were increasingly getting assimilated into the Tamil culture or being 'Tamilized '.
What comes out of this discussion of the facts, i.e. that there were Sinhalese settlements dotted over most parts including the farthest corners of the present Eastern Province and certain parts of the southern Districts of the present Northern Province; that almost all of the area of the present Eastern Province and some parts of the Mannar, Vavunia and Mullaitivu Districts came under the political authority of the Kandyan Kingdom during the greater part of its existence; is that these areas do not qualify to become a "historical homeland' of any one ethnic group and certainly not the Tamils in terms of historical facts. It has been an ethnically heterogenous region ever since the Sinhalese began to drift south-westward. The social and economic processes during the last few centuries witnessed a large increase of Tamils and simultaneous decline of the Sinhalese in certain parts of this region. This evidence is in direct contrast to the Tamil ethonationalist argument that it was the Sinhalese who were forcibly brought into this area. By the end of the first quarter of the 20th century a clear and a new ethnic distribution pattern had emerged."So the responsibility of the present government should be to take all initiatives to resettle the Sinhalese at least in an around the places where the ruins of Buddhist worship places exist. The huge mandate given by the people in the recently concluded presidential election underscores the fact that this country cannot be divided based on a bogus Homeland theory introduced by power hungry Jaffna Tamil Elite spearheaded by Tamils from Malaysia and Singapore. But the disturbing fact is that Tamil racists have deliberately settled Tamils in and around most of these places with the support of Eelam supportive government servants and I/NGOs in order to ensure the furtherance of the bogus Tamil Homeland theory.