I'm creating this topic, because I posted the suggestion for this civ in the "Honour and Glory" forum, but I came up with so many references, that the necessity of having a topic of its own became unavoidable. Also, it came to my attention when I was collecting and searching for interesting elements, that it was more relevant to put this topic here, in the rise of the east forum, than in the millenium one, because I think the geographical area I cover, and the period too are more fitting of this mod in my opinion.
Here you'll find elements of presentation of the ancient sinhalese civilization, and if someone is interested, one can even start modding this civilization. Such a mod would cover the earlier part of the period of Anuradhapura Kingdom (4th century BC to 11th century AD):https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anuradhapura
First of all, I want to give you a quick introduction to the sinhalese culture. I must warn you that the sources of ancient history of the island are mostly buddhist manuscripts, which are not the most reliable sources for historians, but nevertheless integrate some factual, proven elements.
Sinhalese people live in the Island called today "Sri Lanka", which used to be known as "Ceylon" under the rule of the british empire (this designation is still used on tea boxes, and Sri Lanka remains today the first exporter of tea in the world). The island of Sri Lanka is situated right under India, having the shape of a teardrop. The island has a very ancient, complex and rich history. I won't detail all of it, because it wouldn't be relevant for the purpose of this introduction, but I will nonetheless introduce some elements.
First of all, Sri Lanka is inhabited by three main ethnicities (there are actually more groups, but let's not complicate things! ) First of all, it's been inhabited for thousands of years by the Vedda people (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedda), an aboriginal culture that lived in harmony with nature, and who are not as many today as they used to be. During these ancient times, the Island was known as Trapobana (Ταπροβανᾶ) by the greeks, and was said to be inhabited by anthropophagous demons by indians (the Mahabharata designated Lanka as the kingdom of the legendary demon Ravana and his clan).
Then, according to a buddhist source, the Mahavamsa, Prince Vijaya and his 700 companions set foot on the Island in the middle of the 6th century BC, the very day the Buddha died. They allegedly came from a kingdom in North eastern India, in today's Bengal. Vijaya was said to descend from a lion, hence the name "sinhalese" or "sinhala": the lion people".
He founded the kingdom of Tambapanni (543 BC - 505 BC), but having no descendant to succeed him asked his nephew Panduvasdeva to come from India, and rule his kingdom after his death. However, his nephew had not arrived yet when he died, so he left his minister Upatissa to be the regent (the latter is nevertheless considered as a king, in the official list of sinhalese kings). When Panduvasdeva finally arrived, he was established as the new king and founded his own dynasty: the house of Vijaya, which was going to last until 66 AD.
During the rule of the sinhalese monarchs, the veddas fled in the forests and mountains of the center of the island, and new invaders came to test the power of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, established in 474 BC, after several changes of capital cities.
These invaders were tamils from Southern India. They had strong armies and superior navy, and they succeeded into seizing the throne of Anuradhapura several times during its long history, sometimes for a short period, sometimes for a longer period (some kings being wise and respected even by the Sinhalese people, as King Elara- 205 - 161 BC) only to be driven out every time by a sinhalese counterattack.
However they finally destroyed and sacked Anuradhapura for the last time in 1017 AD, occupying it for 53 years. From this moment, tamils had established a permanent foothold on Sri Lanka, and founded several kingdoms. The sinhalese would never come back in their old capital, and instead moved to Pollonaruwa, during the medieval times.
Modern Sri Lanka has been shaped by the turbulent history between sinhalese (roughly 70% of the population) and tamils, the last chapter of this conflict being the civil war from 1982 to 2009 between the secessionist "tamil tigers" of the LTTE, and the government of Sri Lanka (also comprising tamils in its ranks), who would finally be victorious. I'm not going to enter political debates here, I'm just summing up some facts.
What distingues the most sinhalese people from tamils and other indians, are their attachment to buddhism (theravada buddhism). They always (at least since the reign of Devanampiya Tissa) have seen their island as a holy sanctuary for buddhist tradition. They possess numerous relics from the buddha (for example, a tooth from the buddha, and a sacred tree born from an offspring of the famous tree under which the budha attained the enlightenment) and feel a great pride abour it. The island remained a buddhist fortress during the times where the Mauryan empire collapsed in India (thus considering the kingdom of Anuradhapura as the true heir to Ashoka's legacy would not be inappropriate), during the Shunga, and Gupta dynasties, and even if it has been conquered since by the Portuguese, which brought catholicism, the Dutch, and the English, which brought protestantism, and also received the influence of muslim merchants, bringing Islam into the island, the inner core of the country remained the sinhalese buddhist community. It's because of this attachment of buddhism as part of their destiny, that Sinhalese were fierce and indomitable fighters when invaders threatened their soil, because they considered themselves as guardians of this sacred legacy, and some still feel this way today...
Therefore, as far as the mod is concerned, my proposal would depict the Sinhalese during the time of the early Anuradhapura Kingdom (267 BC to 60 AD) which mostly covers the era of Vijaya Dynasty. It could also be possible to cover the middle Anuradhapura Kingdom (66 AD to 515 AD) which would cover the first part of the era of Lambakanna dynasty, and the rise of the Moriya dynasty. Here's the list of sinhalese monarchs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Sinhalese_monarchs
I will post more elements soon.