Saturday, September 18, 2021

Traditions & Customs in Sri Lanka

AsiaSri LankaTraditions & Customs in Sri Lanka

There are a few traditions that will take some getting accustomed to, especially for Western visitors.

  • When visiting temples, it is traditional to remove your shoes and dress respectfully (no miniskirts, tank tops, short pants, etc…). It is also customary to remove shoes before entering a house, but this is not as rigorously enforced as it is in Japan.
  • Never touch or pat Buddhist monks, especially younger monks and temple youngsters.
  • Tattoos depicting the Buddha should not be shown. This is considered extremely disrespectful in Sri Lanka, while being accepted in other Buddhist nations and areas. Arrest and deportation are also possible outcomes.
  • When you’re at a fair distance of a Buddha statue, don’t turn your back on it. This includes posing for photographs in which you should avoid making any arm or body contact with the statue. It is preferable to photograph a Buddha statue with all participants facing it (as if studying it) rather than posing beside it.
  • Public nudity is prohibited in Sri Lanka; thus, naked/topless sunbathing and skinny dipping should be avoided, except at exclusive beach resorts.
  • Although visitors are given a lot of leeway, it is more courteous to use your right hand when handling money and tiny items, etc… You can, of course, use both hands for anything large and/or heavy.
  • Monks should be treated with respect. There is no specific etiquette for Westerners; just be courteous. On a packed transport, always offer someone a seat (unless you’re handicapped or old).
  • Politics, especially the Sinhalese/Tamil split or the LTTE, is extremely contentious. Thousands of assaults occurred across the nation throughout the 26-year civil war that concluded in 2009, including suicide bombs and massacres that murdered hundreds of officials and civilians on both sides.
  • No photography of sensitive sites (inside and out), as well as retail malls and tea factories (outside OK). Take extra precautions at Fort, Colombo (except on the beach). It’s usually not a good idea to picture troops protecting anything. Don’t depend only on signage, since they may be out of date or absent. For example, one end of a bridge may have a “No Photography” sign while the other does not.
  • Although seemingly harmless public shows of affection between lovers, such as kissing and/or embracing, are traditionally frowned upon since they are considered private behavior, they are allowed at adult-only events and venues such as nightclubs, casinos, and beach parties. Foreigners are treated with great courtesy, and holding hands and public love between parents and their children is not frowned upon.