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Ceylon: customs and traditions of modern Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, a generally poor Asian country, the life expectancy of the population is surprisingly high, even by European standards – on average 75 years (73 for men and 77 for women). This fact is a good reason for tourists visiting Sri Lanka to look closely at how people live on their exotic island, to the customs and foundations of their life.

I immediately understand the common and sometimes confusing names: Ceylon – the name of the country and Islands in the Northern part of the Indian ocean, the island is Sri Lanka, officially it is: the Democratic socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.This island nation has two capitals – a little-known town with a complex name Sri Jayawardanapura Kotte (where the country’s Parliament and the Supreme court are located), and the large metropolis of Colombo (where the residence of the President of Sri Lanka and government offices are located).

Sri Lanka is home to more than 21 million people, mostly Sinhalese (or Sinhalese -74%), Tamils – Lankan (13%) and Indian (6%), as well as small communities of descendants of European colonists – the Dutch and Portuguese, who call themselves burghers, and Arabs (“Moors”, only about 7%).

If you go further, will you be quieter?

Sri Lanka is friendly from young to old

The hospitality, open nature and cheerful friendliness of the Lankans are noted by all who have visited Ceylon. The wide smiles of the swarthy islanders seem to accompany the tourists during the entire trip. But if you look at the everyday behavior of the Lankans, you can notice an interesting feature: they never raise their voice and do not speak loudly, either in joy or in anger. Moreover, raising your voice and generally behaving noisily, according to them, is the height of discourtesy and obscene behavior, this should be remembered by everyone who first goes to Sri Lanka.

The” noiseless ” behavior of the Lankans, which does not coincide with our ideas of a stormy southern temperament, is explained by their traditionally high religiosity. Sinhalese practice Buddhism, Tamils, the second largest people in Sri Lanka-Hinduism. Temple structures in Ceylon are found everywhere, even in the remote jungles. Both major religions adhere to the doctrine of the impermanence of earthly existence, preach detachment from worldly vanity, the desire for peace and Nirvana, perhaps this is the reason for the” quiet ” way of life of the Lankans.

Sensitive topic

Tamil protests in Sri Lanka

As strange as it sounds in the light of all the above, it is religion that is the main and most acute problem of modern Sri Lanka. More precisely, religious strife. News agencies keep bringing reports of bloody armed clashes between Sinhalese and Tamils. These religious feuds are rooted in the centuries-old colonial period in Ceylon’s history, when the British authorities forcibly deported many thousands of Tamils from mainland India to the island to work on tea plantations. Since then, inter-religious and inter-ethnic conflict has been simmering on the island.

Admittedly, there is no information that foreign tourists or foreigners in General were injured during the clashes between Sinhalese and Tamils. Sri Lankan authorities are doing their best to localize the conflict.in cities, only a large number of military patrols on the streets remind us of it. This creates certain problems when photographing: tourists are not allowed to shoot not only purely military objects, but also state institutions, banks, company offices, etc., including the military themselves.

However, this kind of problem arises for tourists not only with the military-ordinary Lankans react very negatively, for example, if tourists take pictures of each other against the background of Buddha statues – in their opinion, it is unacceptable to turn your back to the deity. Photographing Buddhist monks is not welcome, and the Lankans themselves are not always willing to pose for a photograph, in such cases they must be asked for permission. And another recommendation: don’t rush to grab your camera joyfully when you see a luxury white car decorated with white ribbons – this is a funeral, not a wedding! White in Ceylon is the color of grief, while red is the predominant color at weddings.

Holidays in Sri Lanka – almost six months

Holidays in Sri Lanka – almost six months

The theme of holidays can not be avoided when describing the customs of any people. In this sense, Sri Lanka provides a huge amount of material – 170 holidays are celebrated here every year! This is despite the fact that there are not many official holiday dates. For a five-day working week, holidays are considered to be January 14, January 21, February 4 (Independence Day), March 8, April 13 and 14 (local New year), April 22, may 1, may 24, November 1, November 4, and December 25 (Christian Christmas). In addition, the date of the full moon is considered a monthly holiday and a non-working day. By the way, the use of alcohol during the full moon and noisy fun in Sri Lanka is not welcome.

The other numerous festivals are of a religious and mythological nature, the largest and most spectacular of them is Esala Perahera, celebrations dedicated to the Tooth of the Buddha. This holiday is celebrated in August and lasts 10-11 days. Esala Perahera is perhaps the only holiday that combines the traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism. The scale of the celebrations can be judged at least by the fact that, as witnesses testify, the morning after the end of the festive night, the squares in front of the temples are usually covered with sleeping tired people and … elephants (also sleeping)!

Almost native Asian food

Cuisine in Sri Lanka

The cuisine in Ceylon, as elsewhere in South and South-East Asia, is quite spicy. Experts say that the taste characteristics of Lankan cuisine is close to European. In any case, dubious delicacies like snakes or sea worms, as in other countries, are not offered to tourists here, although seafood is used in the national cuisine. The Lankans themselves prefer curry, which is well – known all over the world, as an everyday food.here it is not a sauce or even a separate dish, but a whole culinary direction. The basis of the Sri Lankan curry is boiled or fried rice, then everything depends on the skill and imagination of the cook – vegetables, meat, fish, seafood and, of course, very hot sauces are added to the rice.

Sri Lanka is rightly called a “Paradise for vegetarians”. Such an abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables, fantastically, by our standards, cheap, can not be found, perhaps, anywhere in the world. And in the diet of Lankans, fresh vegetables and fruits occupy a very large place. Is this one of the reasons for their amazing longevity?

Right and left hand rules

Many who visited Sri Lanka paid attention to one strange feature of the behavior of the Lankans. Not only do they never eat anything with their left hand – only with their right, but they are also noticeably nervous when foreigners do it. The thing is that Sri Lankans do not use toilet paper for its intended purpose. And for a well-known hygienic procedure, they resort to using a special hand shower, manipulating the left hand at the same time. Then they don’t do anything with it, eating, shaking hands – everything is done with the right hand.

In a hot tropical climate, this hygienic method is quite justified and even worthy of imitation. But if you are left-handed, try not to use your left hand at the table in the presence of Lankans and never extend your left hand to greet them! And in General, it is better to avoid handshakes, and greet local residents according to their custom: folding your hands on your chest “house” and raising them to the level of your forehead. In response, you will be given a radiant smile!

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