Customs and Traditions of Sri Lanka

Customs and Traditions of Sri Lanka

Population and religion

According to Countryaah, most of the population of the island of Sri Lanka are Sinhalese (75%), the smaller part is Tamils: Ceylon and Sri Lankans (18%), descendants of Arabs are Sri Lankan Moors (7%), descendants of marriage unions with Europeans are burghers (0.3%), Malays, as well as the indigenous population of the island – the Vedas (about one thousand people).

The dominant religion is Buddhism – 70% of believers, mostly among the Sinhalese. Most of the Tamils profess Hinduism (15%). Also among the inhabitants of Sri Lanka there are Christians (8%) and Muslims among the Sri Lankan Moors (7%).


Sinhala is spoken in Sri Lanka. This language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan group of languages, has official status in the country. It is based on the language of the natives of the island – Vedda. In addition, Tamil and English are considered the state language. Check agooddir for recent history of Sri Lanka.

Rules of conduct for tourists

Religion, in particular Buddhism, had a great influence on communication etiquette and rules of conduct in public places.

Behavior in public places

  • Taking photos of local residents without their permission is not recommended.
  • Some animals in Sri Lanka are especially revered, for example, a cow. They require a certain amount of respect. However, some animals need to be treated with caution – monkeys can be quite intrusive and can also steal food and small things. It is not possible to find them, because on the territory of the monastery they have immunity. For the same reasons, when leaving a hotel room, you should close the windows.
  • In some settlements of the island, the so-called “professional beggars” are common. They can be very intrusive, so if a tourist decides to give them some change, it is better to do it from the car window.
  • It should be remembered that the front seats in public transport are reserved for monks.
  • Women in vehicles never sit in the front seats with the driver.
  • Hunting for local fauna is prohibited. You can not damage and collect corals.
  • The hotel recommends using mosquito nets.
  • Between May and September, ocean disturbances are frequent. In these cases, it is necessary to beware of strong waves and sharp coral outgrowths.
  • You should find out about the payment for any services in advance so that this does not become an unpleasant surprise.
  • The full moon of each month is considered a religious holiday. On this day, you can not drink alcoholic beverages in public places.

Facial expressions and gestures

  • Showing the soles of the feet and shoes to the interlocutor is considered an offensive gesture.
  • It is not recommended to take or pass anything with the left hand.
  • As in Bulgaria, in Sri Lanka, gestures that are not quite familiar to us are responsible for “yes” and “no”. For example, when a local resident wants to say “yes”, he shakes his head from side to side, lowering it slightly forward.
  • Clenching the palm into a fist with a raised index finger is considered an indecent gesture.
  • Close physical contact, such as hugging, is considered bad manners in public places.

Rules of conduct in the temple

  • Clothing for visiting the temple should be modest, covering the shoulders, back and legs (shorts are not recommended).
  • When entering the temple, you need to remove your hat and shoes. For hygiene reasons, it is advisable to bring disposable socks with you.
  • Photography is not allowed inside the temple without permission.
  • It is forbidden to stand with your back to Buddha statues.
  • You can not touch the monks and greet them with a handshake. To do this, you need to put your palms together and bring them to your forehead along with a slight bow.
  • It is forbidden to sit when the monks are standing and sit at the same level with them, you need to sit on a small bench or on the floor.


  • At any time of the year, light clothing made of natural material in light colors is suitable. Warm clothes are required for a trip to the mountains.
  • In hot weather, it is recommended to wear a hat, use protective creams and sunglasses.
  • On a trip, it is advisable to take waterproof clothes and an umbrella, as it rains here quite often.
  • Topless sunbathing is not recommended.

National holidays in Sri Lanka

The country celebrates Buddhist, Muslim and Christian holidays.

The full moon of every month is the religious holiday “Rowa Day”.

February 4 – Independence Day, one of the main holidays

April 14 – New Year of the Sinhalese and Tamils

May – Vesak Poya Day, the famous holiday of the Birth, Enlightenment and Resurrection (Departure to Nirvana) of the Buddha

September – Eid-Ul-Fitr (Ramadan)

November – Deepavali Festival, the day of the victory of Light over Darkness

December 25 – Christmas

Tourists love to visit Kandi-Esala-Perahera holiday, which is held in July-August and is a ten-day ceremony with events related to honoring the sacred tooth of the Buddha. The second most popular holiday is Duruthu Perahera, which is organized in January in Colombo. It is dedicated to the arrival of the Buddha in Sri Lanka. At the same time, the traditional Navam parade is held to the main Buddhist temple of Colombo – Gangarama.

A fun New Year celebration on the island is accompanied by sporting events and elephant races.

At the end of summer, the Hindu festival Vel takes place in the capital, where you can see how the sacred chariot of the god of war Skanda passes. Very unusual ritual ceremonies are accompanied by the Kataragama festival, which takes place in July-August in Katagarama.

Muslims widely celebrate in the spring the celebration of the sacrifice of Eid ul-Azha, Eid e-Milad – the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad in May-June, the memorial day of the Prophet Muhammad in October and the holy Ramadan.

Customs and Traditions of Sri Lanka

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