Art & Culture

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Sri Lanka’s arts and crafts are largely influenced by its Buddhist culture. Many ancient paintings, sculpture and architecture have originated from religious beliefs and customs.

Cave and temple painting is a unique feature found in Sri Lanka. The Sigiriya frescoes and Dambulla cave paintings are two such examples.

Other art and crafts include the traditional wooden handicrafts and clay pottery. These are popular in the hill country. Portuguese-inspired lacework and Indonesian-inspired Batik are also seen in certain parts of the island.

Sri Lanka's cuisine mainly consists of boiled or steamed rice served with curry. Another well-known rice dish is Kiribath, meaning "milk rice."    Since Sri Lanka is globally known for its scenic tea plantations in the hill country and one of the largest producers of tea in the world, the country’s  favourite drink is tea, with many people consuming at least three cups a day.

Sri Lanka is a land of great cultural diversity. Religion interposes many aspects of life and constitutes a basic element of this diversity. Buddhist and Hindu temples, as well as mosques and churches, with their own colourful rituals, are the most readily visible features of the cultural landscape. Varying degrees of colonial impact, modernizing influences, and wealth and income all add colorful  shades to the country’s culture. 

The country also has a rich artistic tradition, with distinct creative forms that encompass music, dance, and the visual arts. Sri Lankan culture is internationally associated with cricket, a distinct cuisine, an indigenous holistic medicine practice, and religious iconography such as the Buddhist flag.

Buddhism and Portuguese colonizers are the two primary influences on Sri Lankan music. The Lord Buddha's visit resulted in the arrival of Buddhism and all its traditions. The Portuguese brought with them  cantiga ballads, ukuleles, guitars and came along with African slaves, who further diversified the musical roots of the island. The African slaves were called ‘kaffringha’, and their dance music was called ‘baila’.   Traditional Sri Lankan music includes hypnotic drumming which is the source of music in both the Buddhist and Hindu temples in the country.

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country with  the majority community being Sinhalese. The other ethnic groups that are part of Sri Lanka's epic society are the Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils, Moors & other minorities including the Malays and Burghers. Each of these groups has its own identity, customs & traditions. The two official languages are Sinhala and Tamil.   Sinhala is spoken by the majority while Tamil is widely used in the northern & eastern parts of the country. English is widely spoken and understood by most, and it is the language of business & commerce.