The Island’s two major ethnic groups, the Sinhalese (about 73% of inhabitants) and the Tamils (around 18%), and its two dominant religious cultures, Buddhist and Hindu, made their way onto the Island from India. Cultural traits brought from India have undergone independent growth and change. The Sinhala language, which grew out of Indo-Aryan dialects, exists only in Sri Lanka and has its own distinguished literary tradition…People-Sri Lanka
CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS – Majority of Sri Lankans belong to the Sinhala community and others are of Tamil and Muslim groups. Sinhalese people are identified as a separate community because they speak a different language and they have a different culture. The culture of Tamil speakers (not Muslims) is not totally different from that of Sinhala speakers, because in fact they both are of Indian origin. The culture of Sinhala speakers contains a multitude of traditions and customs, some of them are very old and some of them are comparatively new. Customs represent moral values of a community in addition to their communicative meaning. The religion plays a significant role is shaping customs and habits of various societies.
RELIGIONS – Sri Lanka’s population practices a variety of religions. The most of followers are Theravada Buddhists (about 70% of Sri Lankan population), then 12.6% are Hindus, 9.7% are Muslims and 7.4% Christians. Sri Lanka was ranked the 3rd most religious country in the world by a 2008 Gallup poll, with 99% of Sri Lankans saying religion is an important part of their daily life.
FOOD – Foods in Sri Lanka can be hot or very mild or can be a combination being very much a question of individual preference. Sri Lankan food is unique for their culture. Many Sinhala food items are derived from Chena cultivation. Sri Lankan cuisine plays a vital role in the Islanders’ life from the most auspicious Sinhala/ Hindu New Year to normal day-to-day practices.
Curry – basic of Sri Lankan diet is rice. Very popular is curry as a meal consisting of rice and curry with meat, fish or vegetables. Curry in many verities of colors and flavors with blended in Sri Lanka hot spices has a great ayurvedic value.
Fruits – there are lots of delicious fruits in Sri Lanka, like most popular – mango, papaya, bananas, pineapple and jackfruit.
Drinks – worth tasting is coconut water, it’s very good to quench thirst and consists of many minerals. Most popular alcohols are – arrack and also Sri Lankan beer.
FESTIVALS – Sri Lanka having a history as long as many ancient civilizations, positioning in the crossroad of the East and the West, and being a multicultural society celebrates a wide variety of festivals, ceremonies and events.
Every month there is Buddhist Poya – Full Moon day, Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and passed away to Nirvana on a full moon day
Every year on 13-14th of April Sinhala and Tamil people celebrate Sinhala and Tamil New Year Festival.
The most important is the grand festival of Esala held in Sri Lanka – Esala Perahera. Happening in July or August in Kandy, it has become a unique symbol of Sri Lanka. It is a Buddhist festival consisting of dances and richly decorated elephants. There are fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandyan dances and various other cultural dances. The elephants are usually adorned with lavish garments. A majestic tusker from the Tooth Relic Temple parades around the city bearing the tooth of Buddha.