Sri Lanka’s aviation authority has said it will lead a research project to study the mythological character Ravana’s “aviation routes”.
In a recent newspaper advertisement in Sinhala, the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka has sought any relevant documents and literature from the public, asking them to contact an email ID and phone number to research the topic “King Ravana and the ancient domination of aerial routes now lost”.
When contacted, an official at the Authority said the project sought to bring out an authoritative narrative about King Ravana as “there are many stories”.
Asked why the Civil Aviation Authority was helming the project, the official — asking not to be named — said: “We are the main aviation regulatory authority in Sri Lanka. Since there are multiple stories over the years about Ravana flying aircrafts and covering these routes, we want to study this matter.”
While Sri Lanka’s tourism sector promotes the ‘Ramayana trail’ for visitors from India — one of Sri Lanka’s largest tourism markets — it is the epic’s antagonist King Ravana that the majority Sinhala-Buddhists hail, like Dravidian party icons in Tamil Nadu, including former Chief Ministers C.N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi did. Both socio-religious organisations in Sri Lanka and the state venerate and acknowledge Ravana as “the brave king” from the island nation.
A hard-line Sinhala Buddhist group calls itself ‘Ravana Balaya’, while Sri Lanka named its first satellite, launched into orbit last June, ‘Ravana-1’. Addressing a conference civil aviation specialists in Colombo in 2016, then Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva had remarked that while the modern history of global aviation began with the Wright Brothers, it was common legend in Sri Lanka that a brave king called Ravana, used a flying machine called “Dandu monara” to fly not only within the country, but also in the region.