September 22, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Essay: Burghers-The Heartists of Ceylon by Dilantha Gunawardana

1 min read

In this essay, Dilantha Gunawardana traces the journey of Burghers, a Sri Lankan ethnic group of people who can also be called the Goans of Sri Lanka.


Sri Lanka is known for a medley of ethnicities, namely Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, and a host of smaller minorities, of which Burghers are a standout in relation to an ivory or off-white skin tone, light eyes ranging from sparkling blue to swirls of hazel, tresses that are painted in a spectrum of browns, and having English as their mother tongue. Burghers can be called the “Goans of Sri Lanka” who have their own versions of ancient forts, busy flea markets, and Pork Vindaloo.

Burghers are found mostly on the coastal belt of Sri Lanka, concentrated in towns such as Dehiwala and Moratuwa. Burghers narrates a tale of social privilege that was reversed by a Parliamentary Act of Sri Lanka that propelled them to migrate in numbers to first-world, global north havens. Despite this, they rarely uprooted their heritage or effaced their islander mentality, always staying true to a proud and privileged birthright; being Sri Lankan.  

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