The culture and tradition of Sri Lanka mix modern society with traditional aspects and it’s known for its own regional diversity. Heritage of Theravada Buddhism passed from India has been mainly influenced to the culture of Sri Lanka. Religion’s effect to the culture is particularly strong in southern and central regions in the country. South Indian cultural influenced are especially affected in the northern part of the country. The history of colonial invasions has also left a mark on Sri Lanka’s identity with Portuguese, Dutch and British with different kinds of traditional faucets. In Sri Lanka, mainly the Sinhalese people possesses links to both India and Southeast Asia in cultural and traditional aspects. With all these influences traditional Sri Lanka now consists of rich artistic tradition with distinct creative forms that encompass music, dance, and the visual arts.
The island’s immigration history, colonial invasions, and trade have led to the formation of the variety of ethnic groups, each with its own language and religious traditions. Among them, the majority is Sinhalese Buddhists. And also it includes Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamils with an Indian origin, Muslims, Burghers and semi-tribal Veddas. Although the members in these groups share many cultural practices, beliefs, and values, ethnic differences have become marked since the nation’s independence in 1948. These different practices and the exclusive policies of the Sinhala dominated government have led to the origin of many ethnic conflicts inside the country including the Tamils and Muslims.
Traditional Sri Lanka can be described in many aspects including traditional food types, dances, clothing, unique items, etc. Though Sri Lankan food has parallels to South Indian food items, yet it remains distinctly as its own form of cuisine. Here are few things about Sri Lankan food and what people prefer most. Sri Lankans thoroughly love spices, they love food that explodes with flavors, and many people enjoy deeply fried and very tasty snacks. Whatever you choose to eat in Sri Lanka, your mouth will rejoice with happiness and tasty. Milk rice, sour fish curry ( “malu ambul thiyal” ), potato curry, “gotukola sambal”, coconut roti, hoppers etc. are some famous dishes. Most of the foreigners who visit Sri Lanka are more impressed with these dishes in the country.
Another traditional aspect Sri Lanka is traditional dancing. 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 Kandyan dance takes its name from Kandy, the last royal capital of Sri Lanka. There are five distinct types of Kandyan dancing, the “ves”, “naiyandi”, “udekki”, panther, and “vannams”. Tourists who tour Sri Lanka usually show more interest towards these traditional dancings. The three classical dance forms differ in their styles of body movements and gestures, in the costumes of the performers and in the shape and size of the drums used to provide rhythmic sound patterns which accompany the dancing styles. The drums used in Kandyan dancing is called as the “Geta Bera”, the drums in Ruhunu (low country) dancing as the “Yak Bera” and the drums in Sabaragamuwa as that “Davula”. The main distinguishing feature between Kandyan, Sabaragamu and Ruhunu dancing is that Ruhunu dancers wear masks.
Sri Lanka has been inherited and influenced by these traditions of mask making and devil dancing mainly from the cities of Kerala and Malabar in India. The craft of mask making has been developed for years and the craftsmen have been able to provide more decorated and improved designs when compared to the old ones in Sri Lanka in the past. When you travel Sri Lanka mask wearing can only be seen in the southern part of the country. You can see different kinds of masks in large numbers if you are bound to pass the town of Ambalangoda which is well known for mask making. Visitors from all over the world who show some preference for the country’s traditional views in Sri Lanka are almost welcome to Sri Lanka and also they can take any information about those views at any time.