Essence of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is home to a multi-ethnic, multi-religious & multi-cultural society where the majority race is Sinhalese & the main religion is Buddhism. Perfectly located on the sea route connecting the East to the West, Sri Lanka has long been visited by people from other countries. Being an island nation with over thousands of years of exposure to foreign nationals, Sri Lankans have learnt to tolerate & respect all races, religions & sub cultures.
Sri Lankan Literature
Sri Lanka is known for a rich tradition of literature which span over thousands of years. The earliest records of written texts in the country are linked to the historical records of important events complied by Buddhist monks. Since then a large body of modern literature has developed in both the Sinhala & Tamil Languages.
Sri Lankan Music
Buddhism, Indian classical music & the Portuguese colonizers werethe three biggest influences on Sri Lankan music scenario. Below are different types of music one could experience in Sri Lanka.
traditional folk music used by the ordinary people & largely influenced by the Buddhist culture.“Kolam” is a form of local drama music based on low country tunes.“Nadagam” is a much more developed form of drama music influenced by South Indian street plays.“Noorthi” is a local form of drama music.“Jana Kavi” or folk poems are sung by individuals such as farmers, cart drivers, miners etc, to pass time or to battle the loneliness while engaging in their employment.
“Raban Pada” is a form of music associated with the Sinhala & Tamil New Year.
“Virindu” is the singing of a spontaneous song to the beaten melody of a rabana.
Hindustani classic music traditionsSouth Indian classical music is mainly popular among the Tamil community.
Hindustani film music.Western classical music was influenced mainly by British during the colonization & during this period Sri Lankans learned the art of playing the piano.Baila is a music from which was introduced during the Portuguese colonial rule.
Sri Lankan Dancing
There are three major forms of dancing in Sri Lanka & they are named according to the geographical locations of origin.The Up Country Dance form or Kandyan Dance formThe Low Country Dane form or the Pahatharata Dance form The South Central Dance form or the Sabaragamu Dance form.
Sri Lankan Customs
The customs, rituals and traditions of Sri Lankans have been Influenced primarily by race and religion; many of these customs have been Handed down from generation to generation, safeguarding their spirit and authenticity over thousands of years. Being a multi – ethnic, multi – religious society, there have also been many cross cultural influences. The traditional greeting among the sinhala phrase; “Ayubowan” which means “ May You live Long”, demonstrating respect and care towards the guest. The equivalent greetings in tamil is “Vanakkam”, whilst the muslims will say “ Assalamu Alaikum”
Painting & Sculptures
The history of Sri Lankan painting & sculpture can be tracked as far back as the 2nd or 3rd century BC. Some of the famous sculptures of Sri Lanka include the two lovers of Isurumuniya, the Samadhi Buddha statue of Anuradhapura, the standing Buddha statues of Avukana & Maligawila, statues at the Dambulla cave temple, seated Buddha statue of Wewurukannala & the rock sculptures of Buduruwagala. The earliest paintings in the classical style are found in the 5th century palace-city of Sigiriya rock fortress of King Kashyapa. The 12th century AD murals at the Thivanka Image House at Polonnaruwa are also similar toSigiriya in style. Traditional historiography presents Sri Lankan art in terms of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa, Gampola, Kotte, Kandy & the pre-modern Sri Lanka.
For centuries, traders from all over the world came to Sri Lanka looking for quality spices. Sri Lankan cinnamon is generally considered to be of a superior quality. Apart from cinnamon the fertile land of Sri Lanka is blessed with a wide variety of aromatic spices such as cloves, cardamom, black pepper,gambog, turmeric, curry leaves, mustard, coriander, lemon grass, nutmeg, cumin, sweet cumin, fenugreek, red dry chilies & mace. It is this rich variety that made Sri Lanka a key attraction to the spice traders.
No other country in the ancient world was more famous than Sri Lanka For the precious stones. According to the English historian James Emerson Tennent, the Galle port in Sri Lanka was the ancient seaport of Tarshish referredto in the bible from which the emissaries of King Solomon bought precious stones, ivory, apes and peacocks. During ancient times, traders affectionately called Sri Lanka “Rathnadweepa” which means the land of precious stones.
Sri Lankan Tea
Sri Lanka is world renowned for its high quality teas. Tea production is a vital part of the economy and Sri Lanka is currently one of the biggest tea producing country in the world.
Sri Lankan Cuisines
Sri Lankan cuisine could be considered amongst some of the complex cuisines of South Asia. The specialty about Sri Lankan food is that thesame dish can be prepared in different ways by changing the ingredients & method preparation. Rice & curry is the staple food of Sri Lankans who enjoy some of the spiciest flavors in the world. Meat, fish & vegetables are prepared as curries by adding flavor with sliced onions, green chilies, black pepper, cinnamon,cardamoms, cloves, nutmeg & saffron. Usually rice & curry is consumed at lunch & dinner. A variety of food items are available as breakfast options. The popular varieties include milk rice, string hoppers, pittu, rotti & hoppers. Among the Tamilcommunity food items such as thosai, idli, uppuma, & vadai add variety to the meals.
Handicrafts of Sri Lanka
Production of Sri Lanka’s handicrafts, with the exception of jewellery is essentially a cottage industry. Products are turned out using locallyavailable raw materials such as gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, reed, bamboo, cane, clay, porcelain, coconut & handloom fabric using time tested age old techniques. The commonly available varieties of handicrafts include wood carvings, silver ware, brass castings, ceramic ware, bamboo products, pottery, batiks, lace works, cane works, costume jewellery, lacquer ware, wooden masks, coir goods, handlooms & ivory products.