Sri Lankan culture goes back over 2500 years. It is mainly inspired by Buddhism and Hinduism. Sri Lanka has two major traditional cultures: Sinhalese (centered on the ancient towns of Kandy and Anuradhapura) and Tamil (centred in the city of Jaffna). More recently, the people have been impacted by British colonial culture. Sri Lanka has a democratic history that few other developing nations can match.
The earliest Tamil immigrants arrived in the third century BC. Since then, Tamils and Sinhalese have coexisted, and the early mingling has made the two ethnic groups nearly physically indistinguishable. Ancient Sri Lanka is known for its hydraulic engineering and architectural prowess. The rich cultural traditions shared by all Sri Lankan cultures form the foundation of the country’s high literacy rate, long life expectancy, and improved health standards.
Food and festivals
Rice and curry, pittu, kiribath, wholemeal roti, string hoppers, wattalapam (a rich Malay dessert composed of coconut milk, jaggery, cashew nuts, eggs, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg), kottu, and hoppers are among the dishes available. Jackfruit may occasionally be used in lieu of rice. Food is traditionally served on a plantain or lotus leaf.
Traditional Moor meals include Middle Eastern inspirations and traditions, while the island’s Burgher population preserves their culture via traditional dishes such as Lamprais (rice cooked in stock and baked in a banana leaf), Breudher (Dutch Holiday Biscuit), and Bolo Fiado (Portuguese-style layer cake).
Sri Lankans celebrate the Buddhist and Hindu new year festivals in April. Esala Perahera is a symbolic Buddhist event in Kandy celebrated in July and August that includes dances and painted elephants. The event includes fire dances, whip dances, Kandian dances, and other ethnic dances. Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25th to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, and Easter on April 1st to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection. Thai Pongal and Maha Shivaratri are celebrated by Tamils, whereas Hajj and Ramadan are observed by Muslims.
Visual, literary and performing arts
In 1947, the film Kadawunu Poronduwa (The Broken Promise), produced by S. M. Nayagam of Chitra Kala Movietone, marked the arrival of Sri Lankan cinema. Ranmuthu Duwa (Island of Treasures, 1962) marked the beginning of the cinema’s shift from black-and-white to color. It has recently highlighted family dramas, societal change, and the years of war between the military and the LTTE. The cinematic style of Sri Lanka is comparable to that of Bollywood films. Movie attendance peaked in 1979 at an all-time high, but has since been steadily declining.
Lester James Peiris is a well-known director who has directed a number of films that have received international recognition, including Rekava (Line of Destiny, 1956), Gamperaliya (The Changing Village, 1964), Nidhanaya (The Treasure, 1970), and Golu Hadawatha (Cold heart, 1968). Rienzi Crusz, a Sri Lankan-Canadian poet, is the subject of a documentary about his life in Sri Lanka. His work has been published in both Sinhala and English. Similarly, Michael Ondaatje, a naturalized Canadian, is well-known for his English-language books and three films.
The origins of music in Sri Lanka may be traced back to theatrical acts such as Kolam, Sokari, and Nadagam. These plays included traditional music instruments such as Béra, Thammátama, Dala, and Răbn. Nurthi, the first music album, was published in 1903 by Radio Ceylon (founded in 1925). Songwriters such as Mahagama Sekara and Ananda Samarakoon, as well as musicians such as W. D. Amaradeva, H. R. Jothipala, and Clarence Wijewardene, have made significant contributions to the advancement of Sri Lankan music. Baila is a prominent music genre in the nation that developed among the Kaffirs or the Afro-Sinhalese population.
Sri Lankan classical dance is divided into three distinct genres. Kandyan dances, low country dances, and Sabaragamuwa dances are among them. The Kandyan style, which thrived during Kandyan kings, is the most famous of them. It is a refined style of dance with five sub-categories: Ves dance, Naiyandi dance, Udekki dance, Pantheru dance, and 18 Vannam. Male dancers wear extravagant headdresses and a drum called Geta Béraya is utilized to help them maintain time. In addition, four folk drama variations known as Sokri, Kolam Nadagam, and Pasu, as well as numerous devil dance forms such as Sanni Yakuma and Kohomba Kankariya, may be seen.
Sri Lankan art and sculpture may be dated back to the second or third century BC.
The first mention of painting on Mahavamsa occurs in the 2nd century BC, with the sketching of a palace on fabric using cinnabar. The chronicles describe different murals in Buddhist stupa relic rooms and monk residences.
In the nineteenth century, a Parsi theatre group from Mumbai brought Nurti, a mix of European and Indian theatrical traditions, to the Colombo audience. The performance of Maname, a play written by Ediriweera Sarachchandra, in 1956 marked the beginning of the golden period of Sri Lankan theater and theatre. It was followed by a slew of popular plays such as Sinhabhu, Pabvat, Mahsra, Muudu Putththu, and Subha saha Yasa.
Sri Lankan literature dates back at least two millennia and is a descendant of the Aryan literary tradition represented in the Rigveda hymns. The Pli Canon, the main collection of texts in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, was written down in Sri Lanka at the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 BC at the Alulena cave shrine in Kegalle. Ancient chronicles from the 6th century, such as the Mahvamsa, offer detailed accounts of Sri Lankan dynasties. The chronicles, according to German philosopher Wilhelm Geiger, are based on a Sinhala Atthakatha (commentary) that goes back a few centuries. The Dhampiya-Atuva-Getapadaya, composed in the ninth century, is the earliest extant prose work.
Sandesha Kvya (poetic messages) such as Gir Sandeshaya (Parrot message), Hansa Sandeshaya (Swan message), and Salalihini Sandeshaya are among the finest literary achievements of medieval Sri Lanka (Myna message). Poetry such as Kavsilumina and Kavya-Sekharaya (diadem of poetry) as well as prose such as Saddharma-Ratnvaliya, Amvatura (Flood of nectar), and Pujvaliya are other significant works from this time, which is considered the golden age of Sri Lankan literature. Simon de Silva’s Meena, the first modern-day novel, was published in 1905, and was followed by a series of innovative literary works. Martin Wickramasinghe, the author of Madol Doova, is regarded as a literary icon in Sri Lanka.
While volleyball is the national sport of Sri Lanka, cricket is by far the most popular sport in the country. Rugby union is also quite popular, as are athletics, football (soccer), and tennis. Schools and colleges in Sri Lanka frequently organize sports and athletics teams that compete at the provincial and national levels.
Beginning in the 1990s, the Sri Lanka national cricket team enjoyed significant success, climbing from underdog status to win the 1996 Cricket World Cup. They also won the 2014 ICC World Twenty20, which was held in Bangladesh and was won by defeating India in the final. Furthermore, Sri Lanka finished second in the Cricket World Cup in 2007 and 2011, as well as the ICC World Twenty20 in 2009 and 2012.
Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack ranked former Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan as the greatest Test match bowler ever, and four Sri Lankan cricketers ranked second (Sangakkara), fourth (Jayasuriya), fifth (Jayawardene), and eleventh (Dilshan) highest ODI run scorers of all time, which is the best by an individual. Sri Lanka has won the Asia Cup on six occasions: in 1986, 1997, 2004, 2008, and 2014. Sri Lanka previously had the greatest team score in all three forms of cricket, and now has the highest Test team total. In 1996 and 2011, the nation co-hosted the Cricket World Cup, and in 2012, it hosted the ICC World Twenty20.
Sri Lankans have won two Olympic medals, one silver by Duncan White in the men’s 400m hurdles at the 1948 London Olympics and one silver by Susanthika Jayasinghe in the women’s 200m at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Mohammed Lafir won the World Billiards Championship in 1973, the greatest achievement by a Sri Lankan in a Cue sport. On the coast, beaches, and backwaters, aquatic activities like as boating, surfing, swimming, kitesurfing, and scuba diving draw a significant number of Sri Lankans and international visitors. Cheena di and Angampora are two indigenous martial arts systems in Sri Lanka.