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Ceylon: the customs and foundations of modern Sri Lanka

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

Ceylon: the customs and foundations of modern Sri Lanka
Perhaps you should immediately understand the sometimes confusing names: Ceylon is not the name of the country, but the island in the northern Indian Ocean, the island of Sri Lanka is located on the island, officially it sounds like this: Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. This island nation has two capitals – a little-known town with the complex name of Sri Jayavanadapura Kotte (the country’s parliament and supreme court are located here), and the large metropolis of Colombo (the residence of the President of Sri Lanka and government offices are located here).

More than 21 million people live in Sri Lanka, these are mainly Sinhalese (or Sinhalese -74%), Tamils ​​- Sri Lankan (13%) and Indian (6%), as well as small communities of descendants of European colonists – Dutch and Portuguese, who call themselves burghers, and Arabs (“Moors”, only about 7%).

You go further – will you be quieter?

Sri Lanka friendly from young to old

Hospitality, open disposition and cheerful friendliness of the Sri Lankans are noted by everyone who visited Ceylon. The broad smiles of the swarthy islanders seem to accompany tourists during the entire trip. But if you look closely at the everyday behavior of the Sri Lankans, you can notice an interesting feature: they never raise their voices and speak loudly, neither in joy nor in anger. Moreover, raising their voices and generally behaving noisy, according to their concepts, is the height of rudeness and obscene behavior, this should be remembered to everyone who first goes to Sri Lanka.

The “quiet” behavior of the Sri Lankans, which does not coincide with our ideas about the stormy southern temperament, is explained by their traditionally high religiosity. Sinhalese profess Buddhism, Tamils, the second largest people of Sri Lanka – Hinduism. Temple buildings in Ceylon are found everywhere, even in the remote jungle. Both major religions adhere to the doctrine of the mortality of earthly existence, preach detachment from worldly vanity, the desire for peace and nirvana, perhaps here lies the reason for the “quiet” lifestyle of the Sri Lankans.

Oddly enough, this sounds in the light of all of the above, it is religion that is the main and most acute problem of modern Sri Lanka. More precisely, religious strife. News agencies are constantly reporting bloody armed clashes between Sinhalese and Tamil people. These religious conflicts date back to the centuries-old colonial period in the history of Ceylon, when the British authorities forcibly deported many thousands of Tamils ​​from mainland India to the island to work on tea plantations. Since then, the island has been smoldering, now inter-religious and interethnic conflict has flared up.

It must be admitted that there is no information that foreign tourists and generally foreigners suffered during clashes between Sinhalese and Tamils. The authorities of Sri Lanka are doing their best to localize the conflict, in cities only a large number of military patrols in the streets remind of it. This creates certain problems when photographing: tourists are not allowed to take pictures not only of purely military facilities, but also government agencies, banks, company offices, etc., including the military personnel themselves.

However, this kind of problem arises among tourists not only with the military – ordinary Sri Lankans react very negatively, for example, if tourists photograph each other against the background of Buddha statues – in their opinion, it is unacceptable to turn back to the deity. Photographing Buddhist monks is not welcome, and the Sri Lankans themselves are not always willing to pose for shooting, in such cases they definitely need to ask permission. And one more recommendation: do not rush to clutch joyfully at the camera when you see a luxurious white car decorated with white ribbons – this is a funeral, not a wedding! White in Ceylon is the color of sorrow, while weddings are dominated by shades of red.

The theme of the holidays can not be bypassed in the description of the customs of any people. In this sense, Sri Lanka gives great material – 170 holidays are celebrated here annually! This despite the fact that there are not so many official holiday dates. For a five-day working week, holidays are 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, December 25 (Christian Christmas). In addition, the full moon date is considered a monthly holiday and a day off.

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