SLTDA
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority

Culture

Paddy field Sri Lanka Foods Temple Vegetables

Sri Lanka’s culture is made up of various influencing factors. Religion and colonialisation by the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British have been the primary influencers, while its close connections with neighbouring India have also played a key role.

During the last century, Sri Lanka has changed remarkably. Historically, Sri Lankans were largely influenced by their own traditional food and Buddhism. However, with global developments, economical growth and intense competition in developed countries, Sri Lankans have ventured overseas and received global exposure. Consequently, this resulted in the integration of the western culture into the Sri Lankan community.

Sri Lanka's cuisine mainly consists of boiled or steamed rice served with curry. Another well-known rice dish is Kiribath, meaning "milk rice." Curries in Sri Lanka are not just limited to meat- or fish-based dishes but include vegetables and fruits. A typical Sri Lankan meal consists of a "main curry" (fish, chicken, or mutton), as well as several other curries that are made with vegetable and lentils. Side-dishes include pickles, chutneys and "sambols" which could be very hot to eat. The most popular sambol is the coconut sambol. Apart from sambols, Sri Lankans like to eat "mallung", chopped leaves that are mixed with grated coconut and red onions. Coconut milk is found in most Sri Lankan dishes to give the cuisine its unique flavour.

Religion

Buddhist Temples Church Muslim Mosk Tamil Temple

Sri Lanka's culture is heavily influenced by its religion. The Buddhist community observes Poya Days, which are an important day of prayers to the Hindus, as well. Poya Days come once a month and are determined according to the Lunar calendar.

The Hindus, Christians and Muslims also observe their own holidays.

The history of Sri Lanka has centred around religion on numerous times. There are many Buddhist Temples in Sri Lanka and many Mosques, Hindu temples and Christian churches all situated across the island.

Cricket Mania

Cricket Mania Sri Lanka Cricket Sri Lanka Cricket team Sanath Jayasuriya

During the history of Sri Lanka, sports has played a big part in the culture. Historical records reveal kings and nobleman engaging in various sports such as Elephant Polo.

Cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka. Everyone loves cricket in Sri Lanka and it is common to see the young and old playing cricket in the neighbourhood or at playing fields during the evening or on weekends. A popular pastime of the Sri Lankan population is to watch their national cricket team play in action. It is even common for businesses to shut down when foreign matches are being televised here. In 1996 the Sri Lankan team entered the Cricket World Cup Final. In anticipation of the match, the entire country came to a virtual halt in order to watch the match. Hardly a car was on the road!

Music

Traditional Dance Modern Dance Traditional Dance Sri Lanka Musical Show

Buddhism and Portuguese colonizers are the two primary influences on Sri Lankan music. The Lord Buddha's visit to Ceylon as it was then called in 300 BC resulted in the arrival of Buddhism and all its traditions. The Portuguese arrived here in the 15th Century and brought the cantiga ballads, ukuleles, guitars and came along with African slaves, who further diversified the musical roots of the island. The African slaves were called kaffrinha, and their dance music was called baila.

Traditional Sri Lankan music includes the hypnotic Kandyan drums. Drumming is a very source of music in both the Buddhist and Hindu temples in Sri Lanka.

Arts And Crafts

Crafts Sandakada Pahana Sigiriya Frescoes Dambulla

Sri Lanka’s arts and crafts are largely influenced by its Buddhist culture. Many ancient paintings, sculpture and architecture have originated from religious beliefs and customs.

Cave and temple painting is a unique feature found in Sri Lanka. The Sigiriya frescoes and Dambulla cave paintings are two such examples.

Other art and crafts include the traditional wooden handicrafts and clay pottery. These are popular in the hill country. Portuguese-inspired lacework and Indonesian-inspired Batik are also seen in certain parts of the island.

Tea

Tea Factory Tea plantation Tea Factory Workers Tea plantation

Sri Lanka is globally known for its scenic tea plantations in the hill country. Being one of the largest producers of tea in the world, Sri Lankan’s favourite drink is tea, with many consuming at least three cups a day.