Introduction / History
While they constitute less than one percent of Sri Lanka's population, the Rodiya people of Sri Lanka have their own language and their own distinct Buddhist beliefs and practices. Perhaps this is due to their historic exclusion as outcastes; their name is based on a word for filth. Caste is a feature of Sri Lankan society. Although as outcastes they may seek alms, they are generally denied work and once were even denied clothing! Yet work they do, dancing, juggling plates, and making cane handicrafts. With increased urbanization, their lot in life is improving.
What Are Their Beliefs?
As they see it, they are descended from a Sri Lankan princess who was ostracized for cannibalism. They praise her in songs and poems. Her depiction, however, is very much like the Hindu goddess Kali, recipient of human sacrifices, repugnant to Buddhists. Despite these questionable origins, the Rodiyas are beginning to be assimilated into the larger Sri Lankan society.
Only a few believers have sought to minister to these people. Among them were the late Rt. Rev. Ivan Corea, the canon of the Anglican Church of Ceylon, and his wife Ouida. We do not know if that outreach continued after his death in 1968. Today few Rodiyas are followers of Jesus.
Pray that God will raise up more godly people like the Coreas, and that God will open the hearts of the Rodiyas to His love so that many will come to faith in Jesus and sing His praises in song and poem.