The Evolution of Sinhala Marriage Alliances: A Study of Panama; Sri Lanka


  • M. R. Gunarathne Department of Anthropology, University of Sri Jayewardenepura
  • K. M. S. Samarasekara Department of Anthropology, University of Sri Jayewardenepura


Sri Lankan marriage alliances have manifested a considerable interdependency with the socioeconomic system from the early stages through its history. While sociocultural change is an inherent phenomenon of the evolutionary history of mankind, the traditional Sinhalese marriage system has adapted to the changing socioeconomic forces over the centuries. This study intends to investigate the impact of the current socioeconomic system on modern marriage alliances in Sri Lanka. An analytical ethnographic study was used to execute the research in Panama, drawing upon the study of Nur Yalman, the extraneous anthropologist in 1967. Fifty households were randomly sampled, and a structured interview schedule was employed as the key method of data collection, using non-participant observation and genealogical methods as the subsidiary methods. Both primary and secondary sources were referred to through a mix method in data analysis where both quantitative and qualitative data were used. The findings of the study reveal that, with the passage of time, Sinhalese marriage has undergone a tremendous change in the size of household, age at marriage, process of mate selection, education which leads to labour force, land tenure, caste and the kinship network in Sri Lanka. The research concludes by disclosing that, though the sanctity of Sinhalese marriage is generally affected by socioeconomic change, the shadow of traditional form of marriage alliances can be found in rural Sri Lanka.