Religion plays a decisive role in Sri Lanka, irrespective of race and creed. Sri Lanka’ population practices a variety of religions. Identically there are four main religions in Sri Lanka. When comes to religion distribution in Sri Lanka, as by now 70.2% of Sri Lankans are Buddhists, 12.6% are Hindus, 9.7 are Muslims and 7.4% are Christians (6.1 Roman Catholic and 1.3% other Christian). Central to the island’s religious life is Buddhism, the faith of the vast majority of the country’s Sinhalese. Hinduism is the dominant religion of Sri Lanka’s Tamils, through significant numbers are Christian. The fourth of the island’s faiths, Islam, is professed by Muslim living mainly along the west and, particularly, east coasts. Buddhism is considered the state religion of Sri Lanka and has been given special privileges in the Sri Lankan constitution such as government by protection and fostering Buddhist Dharma
Sri Lanka is in the top of the most religious country list in the world as 99% of the Sri Lankans are in the opinion which saying religion is an important part of their daily life. The presence of four such diverse religions squashed together in such geographical vicinity has resulted in a significant fading of boundaries in places. Followers of all four religions visit one other’s festivals and pilgrimage places.
Four main religions in Sri Lanka
Buddhism in Sri Lanka
Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Sri Lanka, with about 70% of the country’s population as followers. Arahath Mahinda , son of Indian Buddhist emperor Ashoka , led the mission to Sri Lanka in 246 BCE when he converted the Sri Lankan king, Devanampiya Tissa , to Buddhism. From then on, the royal families had helped to encourage the spread of Buddhism, aiding Buddhist missionaries and building monasteries.
Buddhism is a religion based on the teaching by Siddharta Gautama (Buddha). In Sri Lanka, they practice Theravada. Theravada means “the Teaching of the Elders” or “the Ancient Teaching”, and is the oldest of the schools. Buddhism is central to the life and beliefs of the island’s Sinhalese. Almost more than a religion, it has also given Sinhalese a sense of national identity, and enrich the religious view of the island with Buddhism being the main religion of the country and presence of extreme monks in the island which represents the stronghold of the faith. Besides, Sri Lanka was one of the first places converted to religion. Since Buddhism has been now disappeared from India, Sri Lanka has the identity of being one of the world’s oldest Buddhist countries.
Hinduism in Sri Lanka
Hindus make up 12.6% of Sri Lanka’s population. During the 10 th century, as Buddhism experienced some decline during the European colonization, Tamil starts immigrate into the island. Hinduism in Sri Lanka is largely identified with the Tamil population and is concentrated in the Nothern Eastern and Central Provinces. The most important Hindu religious figure in Sri Lankan modern history is, Satguru Siva Yogaswami of Jaffna. Hindu practices generally involve seeking awareness of God. At home, Hindus often create a shrine with icons dedicated to their chosen form of God. Temples are usually dedicated to a primary deity along with associated subordinate deities. Temples dedicated to great Hindu god, Vishnu, are few and far between – ironically, you’re more likely to find images of Vishnu in a Buddhist temple than a Hindu one, given that he’s regarded as the protector of Buddism in the island.
Islam in Sri Lanka
Today, about 9.7% of Sri Lankans are known to be Islam, mostly from the Moor and Malay ethnic communities on the island. By the 7th century, Arab traders had controlled much of the trade on the Indian Ocean, including that of Sri Lanka's. Many of these traders settled down in Sri Lanka, encouraging the spread of Islam. There are two major denominations of Islam, the Sunni and Shia. Muslims believe that God revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad, God’s final prophet, and regard the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the fundamental sources of Islam. Mosques are a common sight around the coast, and the call to prayer is a distinctive feature of local life in many places. All the major Islamic festivals are also observed, these remain largely private affairs within the Muslim community, and aren’t celebrated with the public flamboyance of major Buddhist and Hindu events.
Christianity in Sri Lanka
Christianity makes up about 8% of Sri Lanka’s population, most are Catholics. Christianity first came to Sri Lanka upon the arrival of the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. Under their rule, Roman Catholicism was spread out on the Island with many Roman Catholic schools for the Sinhalese and the Tamils. The percentage of Christians has slowly declined from the height of 10% in 1891 to 7.4% at the latest census, of a population of 20,650 million. The population of Christians was mostly concentrated in the northwest of Sri Lanka and in the capital where they are 10% of the population. Of these Christians, about 85% are Roman Catholics and the rest are Anglicans, Methodists, and other Protestants. Unlike Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, Christianity is the one religion in Sri Lanka which crosses ethnic lines, at least to a small degree. There are no Buddhist Tamils or Hindu Sinhalese, but a small number of Sinhalese and a significant number of Tamils profess Christianity. The Catholic Church holds that there is one eternal God, who exists as a mutual indwelling of three persons: God the Father; God the Son; and the Holy Spirit.