has been the biggest influence in moulding the variegated cultural
heritage of Sri Lanka. In addition, much of the culture of south India
have also made inroads into the social fabric of the island. The
Europeans, particularly the Dutch and the British who colonised the
island , added their own cultural hues, thus, creating a motley blend
which is embellished by the architecture, sculpture, paintings, dances,
theatre, cuisines et. al.
Art, Architecture and Crafts
The classical architecture, sculpture and painting of the island bear
the Buddhist trademark. Buddhist Stupas are scattered all over the
countryside, and there are several exquisite Buddhist sculptures,
especially at Aukana and Buduruvagala. Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa
showcases the archaeological legacy of Sri Lanka.Today, Kandy is the
cultural hub of the country. Dutch forts, churches, British residences,
clubs and courthouses are reminiscient of the colonial era. The city of
Galle is home to the finest colonial monuments of the country.
Woodcarving, weaving, pottery and metalwork bear the touch of rare
artistic finesse. Sri Lanka is renowned for its gems. While the best of
Sri Lankan masks come from Ambalangoda, Ratnapura is the honey pot of
Sri Lanka's gem trade.
Dances and Drama
Sinhalese dancing bears semblance to Indian dance but it takes recourse
to acrobatics, nimbleness and symbolism to unfold its narratives. While
Kandy is famous for 'up-country dancing', Colombo and Ambalangoda are
the nerve centres of ritualistic exorcism of 'devil dancing'. Folk
theatre is a rich blend of dance, masked drama, drumming and exorcism
Rice and curry are the main cuisines at meal times which is
supplemented by side delicacies which include dishes of vegetables, meat
and fish. Sri Lankans also feast upon Indian dishes such as vegetarian
thali and biriyani. A unique Sri Lankan snack is Hoppers which is served
with egg or honey and yoghurt. It is similar to pan cake. Delicious sea
food is available in the coastal areas. In addition, a slew of tropical
fruits are there in the Sri Lankan menu. Tea is the favourite drink. It
is customary to offer tea to a visitor and and for the sake of courtesy
it is not generally turned down.
Esala Perehara, the world famous pageant of elephants and light takes
place every year in August. The Tooth Relic of the Buddha (widely
believed to be an actual tooth of the Lord Buddha) is carried in a
sacred casket around the city during this ritual. Only a specially
trained tusker is entrusted with the task of carrying the Tooth Relic.
It is held at Kandy and celebrations last for two weeks.