File photo of the Sri Lankan flag. Photograph:( Others )
According to the Sri Lankan government, Ravana was the world's first aviator and he first ever person to fly.
When populist strongmen have little else to offer, they offer pride and try to influence the way the past is perceived and use these manufactured perceptions to consolidate their grip on power. We saw it in the case of nepal recently when Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli tried mobilising history on being cornered. Comrade oli declared that Hindu diety Lord Ram was a Nepali and not an Indian.
He even accused India of cultural encroachment and of creating a fake Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram. But nobody took comrade Oli seriously and at best his claims made up for soom good internet memes. Now we have another neighbour trying to mobilise history and looking to package the past to whip up nationalistic pride.
According to the Sri Lankan government, Ravana was the world's first aviator and he first ever person to fly. In Hindu mythology, Ravan was the demon king of Sri Lanka, symbol of evil. In Lankan mythology, he is considered a great ruler and symbol of scholarly excellence. There are many layers to this, but this is the most simplistic perception.
In both the versions, Ravan flew to India some 5,000 years ago. The line between mythology and history has often been blurred. Now the Lanka government wants to understand the methods used by Ravana to fly in ancient times. It wants to conduct in-depth research on this subject. So the Lankan Civil Aviation Authority has come up with an idea and has made an open call to the Sri Lankan public. A request to submit any literature or paraphernalia that suggests the existence of flying machines during Ravana's reign.
This project is titled: 'King Ravana and the ancient domination in the aerial routes that is now lost'
Under this project, if sufficient information is gathered, the department of archaelogy will begin visiting historical sites in Sri Lanka. Shashi Dana-Tunge, the vice chairman of the Lankan Civil Aviation Authority has been quoted as saying 'king Ravana was a genius... He was the first person to fly... He was an aviator... This is not mythology, it is a fact... There needs to be detailed research on this. In the next five years, we will prove this....'
Lanka says that they would prove this in five years.