The ideas, traditional and religious aspects and customs, etiquette and the cuisine of Sri Lankan culture is unique and mostly influenced by the religious diversity. Cultural influences from other Asian countries have also shaped the forms and beliefs of Sri Lankan culture. “The Pearl of the Indian Ocean” bears a rich cultural heritage that marvel every visitor. Here’s a bit of the Sri Lankan culture that you must experience if you ever visit this little island.
Ayubowan – Sinhalese usually greet others with “Ayubowan” (May you be blessed with a long life). Whenever a teacher comes into a classroom, students stand up and greet the teacher with an “Ayubowan” and the teacher also greets back. Sometimes, when we call up a friend or someone, we say “Ayubowan” instead of hello. I have a friend who always answersand starts his calls with an Ayubowan. It’s a Sri Lankan thing.
Wanakkam – Wannakam is the way of greeting among Tamil people.
As-salamu alaykum – Muslims community usually greets each other with As-salamu alaykum.
Sinhalese is the main language of Sri Lanka and is spoken by around 16 million people who are mostly native speakers. Sinhalese is known as Sinhala among the locals. Here are some easy phrases in Sinhalese for you to try, just for fun. You’re welcome.
How are you? – Kohomada? (Ko-ho-mah-the)
How much? – Keeyada? (key-ya-the)
Beautiful – Lassanai
Wonderful – Niyamai
Thank you – Sthuthi
Sorry – Samawenna
The majestic animals plays a significant role in Sri Lankan culture. They are a cultural element as well as a religious symbol. Elephants carries sacred tooth relics of Buddha in pageants/ Processions (Perahera). The elephants are usually dressed in nice, expensive dresses and some elephants are known to dance and greet the spectators with their trunks in the air (in a waving motion) during the parades. The processions are long parades organized by temples to celebrate religious events of Buddha. These lovely processions are accompanied by elephants as well as traditional dancing troupes in bright, colourful dresses. A must-see if you are ever in Sri Lanka.
Read my previous post on Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala.
Buddhists, Tamils/ Hindus, Catholics and Muslims have a variety of religious events all through the year. Vesak is the most sacred religious festival for Buddhists which is celebrated by the Buddhist community around the country.
Sri Lankan culture is full of folk and classical dancing. Most of the traditional dancing, like the famous “Kandayan Dancing” are influenced by the Buddhist roots and the involvement of temples. The Kandyan Dancers are my favorite.
Oh, boy. What to tell ya! Cricket is played almost by everyone in Sri Lanka to say the least. I play it. My 3 year old nephew play it. My friends play it. The students in my classes play it. You get the picture.
A bunch of young kids or adults playing cricket is a common sight in Sri Lanka. It’s an everyday thing. It’s a part of the Sri Lankan culture. Almost every Sri Lankan, regardless of the city, region, religion, race or whatever, loves cricket and adores the Sri Lankan cricket team. It’s the only sport that kind of naturally runs in the blood of each Sri Lankan.
Where in Sri Lanka you would not find a coconut?! Coconuts, rice and spices are a staple of Sri Lankan cuisine. 2 or 3 coconuts are consumed in Sri Lankan households daily. Depending on the curries or the meals, the number of coconuts used in each house may vary. Every part of the coconut tree is used for many purposes so the coconut tree is important to Sri Lankans as it holds a cultural value as well as a commercial value. Most villagers in rural areas live on the income by making and selling coconut products or simply selling coconuts so the coconut tree is an integral part of the economy.
If you have never heard of a Tea Culture, it does exist. Tea is a part of Asian lifestyle and is considered as a stress reliever as well as an energizer. It’s the every day beverage of Sri Lankans. Most Sri Lankans prefer plain tea which is made by tea leaves and boiled water but no milk.
Mention iced tea to a local and see the looks you would get.
Kandyan Saree (Osariya)
The gorgeous dress of the traditional Sri Lankan bride.
If you ever visit Sri Lanka, don’t leave without learning a little bit about the Sri Lankan history and the ancient ruins. Temples, fortresses, statues, irrigation systems, historical tools and methods are wonders made by ancestors under the supervision of truly remarkable kings. Pollonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Yapahuwa and Galle are some of the ancient cities with declared ancient ruin sites.
It’s one of my favourite breakfast meals ever! Yummm! As the name suggests, it is made with coconut milk and rice and usually eaten with a spicy sambol or a paste made with red onions and chilli flakes.
In response to the daily prompt : Culture.