Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean also called as Ceylon and many other names. The beauty of Sri Lanka lies on its blue seas and golden beaches, its jungles, waterfalls, wildlife along with the natural beauty inside the country. Along with this natural beauty, people Sri Lanka also plays an important role to spread the splendid beauty in the island. The size of Sri Lanka is about the size of Ireland. Though it is small in size it has a population of about 20 million. Density is highest in the south-west where Colombo, the country’s main port, and industrial center, is located. The net population growth is about 0.7%. It has a diverse in ethnically, linguistically, and religiously. Sri Lanka ranks number 58 in the list of countries by population.
Historical circumstances have favored more groups at different times. The earliest surviving chronicles from Island were Yakkas, Rakshasas, and Nagas. Tribes of Yakkas (demon-worshippers), Rakshasas and Nagas (cobra-worshippers) inhabited the Island prior to the migration of Vijaya in 6th century BC. At that time the Yakkas were very powerful and expert horsemen who are chiefly responsible for the irrigation system in dry zone for the development of the famous Hydraulic Civilization. Rakshasas were a tribe described to have large bodies. The forefathers of the famous Rakshasa King Ravana lived along with the Yakkas. Naga people lived mostly along the coast. There were Naga Kingdoms, Kings, and temples. Naga kingdoms have existed in Nagadipa (Jaffna peninsula) and Kelaniya in Buddha’s time.
The hunter-gatherer people known as the Wanniyala-Aetto or Veddas are the last descendants of the ancient inhabitants of Sri Lanka, predating the arrival of the Sinhalese. This indigenous community is very distinctive in terms of their cultural identity, the indigenous language, traditional lifestyle, and livelihood. They are the original
hunting and gathering societies that gradually disappeared as the Sinhalese spread over the Island. Currently, this exclusive indigenous community is led by its chieftain Uruwarige Wannila Aetto based in Dambana who succeeded the former chieftain Tissahamy after his death in 1998. Anyhow, if you travel to Sri Lanka, Dambana is a place that you should not miss out.
The four major ethnic groups in present Sri Lanka are the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers. Sri Lanka is the land of multi-ethnic groups distinctively divided by two main characteristics, language, and religion. The Sinhalese are the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka. They are distinguished primarily by their language, Sinhala. The Sinhalese claim to be the descendants of Prince Vijay and his band of immigrants from northern India. 74% of its total population, densely populated in the southwest of the island. Buddhism is the dominant creed of the largest ethnic, the
Sinhalese, and is followed by 70% of the population.
The second largest ethnic group is Tamils which is subdivided into two groups such as the Ceylon Tamils or Sri Lankan Tamils and the Indian Tamils. Altogether, these two groups of Tamils account for 18% of the country’s population. Some 80 % of the Tamils are Hindus. The next group is Moors, the Arab origins, who recognized as the Muslims of 7% of total population. Actually, they are comprised of three subdivisions such as the Sri Lankan Moors, the Indian Moors, and the Malays. The fourth group is the Burghers who are the descendants of the Portuguese and the Dutch. Christians are about 7.5% of the population. They include both Sinhalese and Tamils. Now we can identify Sri Lanka as a land of religious freedom and tolerance. Wherever visit Sri Lanka, you will come across a Buddhist Temple or Dagaba, a
Hindu Kovil, a Christian Church or a Mosque, each with its own distinctive architecture.
People in Sri Lanka will not ever forget tourists welcome to Sri Lanka. They have a lot of hospitalities with them and also they appear always with a smile on their faces every time. Traditional customs and rituals play an important role in the Sri Lankan society from ancient times. They have been handed down from generation to generation. Most of these customs and rituals are connected with the day to day lives of the people in the social and religious circumstances. Sri Lanka’s classical architecture, sculpture, and painting is predominantly Buddhist and Sinhalese. Traditions in Sri Lanka can be classified into many aspects including traditional food types, dances, clothing, unique items, etc. Among them, traditional dancing plays an important role in peoples’ attitudes and skills. There are three main
types of Sri Lankan classical dancing. They are the Kandyan dances of the hill country, known as “uda rata natum”, the low country dances of the southern plains, known as “pahatha rata natum” and Sabaragamuwa dances or Sabaragamuwa natum. The main distinguishing feature between Kandyan, Sabaragamu and Ruhunu
dancing is that Ruhunu dancers wear masks. If you tour Sri Lanka don’t forget to get these great experiences at least for once.