1. SnapshotSri Lanka is an island nation with an ancient cultural heritage that dates back over 2,500 years.Ruins of ancient kingdoms and archeological findings provides fascinating insights into asophisticated ancient society which possessed advanced knowledge of science and technology,town planning and design, and valued the aesthetic beauty of the arts. A significant event in thehistory of Sri Lanka was the introduction of Buddhism in the 3rd century B.C. which thenbecame an integral part of Sinhalese culture and civilization on the island. The many naturalresources of this tropical island along with its natural harbours and strategic location, hasattracted many nations in the past. As early as the 5th century, ships from Egypt, Persia, Arabia,and China docked at the ports to barter their goods for treasures from this island includingprecious gems, pearls, spices, and scented woods. The Portuguese colonized the island in the17th century followed by the Dutch and the British changing the course of history. In 1948Ceylon as it was then called, gained independence from Britain. Today Sri Lanka is akaleidoscope of religions and ethnicities with deep rooted traditions influenced by its pasthistory. The majority of the population is Sinhalese but there are significant communities ofTamils, Muslims, Burghers (descendents of the Dutch), and Malays all of whom contribute tomake this a colourful and vibrant society. Sri Lanka HistorySri Lanka has a fascinating documented history dating back to 543 BC covering a period of over2500 years of civilization. The first major legendary reference to the island is found in the Indianepic - Ramayana, thought to have been written around 500 B.C. The Ramayana tells of theconquest of the island by Rama - an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu and Ramas quest tosave his abducted wife, Sita from Ravanna - the demon god of Lanka. According to scholars,this is a poetic account of the early southward expansion of Brahmanic civilization. Cultural ItinerariesAncient SitesSri Lanka’s archeological and heritage sites scattered across the country tells of a fascinatingancient history that dates back 2,500 years. Ancient kingdoms of Anuradhapura andPolonnaruwa dating back to the 3rd century B.C., the magnificent Sigiriya rock fortress, and theDambulla rock temple provide a glimpse into this ancient civilization. Climb the 1,840 granitesteps up to the dagoba at Mihintale, where Buddhism is said to have been born in Sri Lanka.Visit the jungle village of the Veddas - Sri Lanka’s indigenous inhabitants. The Veddas orWanniya-laeto (forest- dwellers), preserve a direct line of descent from the islands’ originalNeolithic community dating from at least 16,000 BC.Temples, Kovils, & churchesSri Lanka is a kaleidoscope of religions and ethnicities with deep rooted traditions. The majorityof the population is Sinhalese but there are significant communities of Tamils, Muslims,Burghers (descendents of the Dutch), and Malays all of whom contribute to make this a colourfuland vibrant society. Walk down a street in Colombo, along the coast or in the rural areas and youare bound to come across a Buddhist temple, Hindu Kovil, mosque or a church, at times locatedin close proximity to each other.
2. Local customs & lawIt is important for all visitors to Sri Lanka to have a sound knowledge of local customs and lawespecially when visiting cultural, religious and historical sites. Given below are relevantcustoms and regulations:• According to the law of the country, it is illegal to smoke or drink in public. Smoking andconsuming alcohol is strictly prohibited at all cultural and religious attractions.• No visitors are allowed to enter religious places under the influence of alcohol.• Selling and serving of alcohol is prohibited on Poya full moon days as these days have areligious significance, according to Buddhism.• Visitors of both genders have to wear decent clothing to cover the body appropriately whenvisiting religious places and shorts and sleeveless tops are not acceptable. This rule is strictlyadhered to at all religious sites especially the Sacred Bo Tree and Stupas in Anuradhapura andthe Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.• Visitors should remover hats, caps, shoes and slippers when entering buildings and sites withreligious monuments. Most of these places have a secure facility at the entrance for visitors toleave behind shoes and slippers for a very small fee.• At some attractions such as Dambulla and Kandy, visitors have to purchase a camera permit fortheir still photo and video cameras.• No one is allowed to take photographs with Buddha Statues facing the back to the statue. Thisshould be followed by all visitors as a sense of respect to religious monuments.• At historical places of archeological and cultural value such as Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya,where many ruins of ancient buildings are found, visitors should refrain from walking on thebrick walls, touching wall murals and frescoes. This can cause damage to these ancient ruins.
3. LanguageEducation & SkillsCulture of Sri LankaReligion plays an important role in the molding of the social norms & conventions & thus the allthe major religions in the country have certain customs & conventions of their own Everythingthat is so uniquely Sri Lankan plays an significant role in defining the culture of Sri Lanka.Buddhist & Hindu temples display the architectural splendor of this island. The majority of thetemples were built at the behest of a particular king from a dynasty, from the temple architecturemuch can be known about the particular age/dynasty.Music & Dances in Sri LankaSri Lanka has its own vibrant culture & customs. Music & dances of Sri Lanka form a veryimportant part of this culture . Music in the country has a heavy influence on Buddhism, it is saidthat this religion arrived in the island with Lord Buddha’s visit in 300 BC. Broadly music of SriLanka can be categorized in to the following:- o Traditional folk music of Sri Lanka
4. o Local drama music o Hindustani classical music o South Indian classical music o Tamil & Hindustani film music o Western Classical music o Sinhala Light MusicMusic & dances in Sri Lanka has equal importance in their society. Dance in Sri Lanka came in4th century BC to banish natural disasters & sicknesses. Polonnaruwa period which was in 15thcentury AD had immense Chola influence & Sri Lankan folk dances started evolving. Moreclassical dance forms were associated with various rituals & ceremonies, some centuries old &are based on the indigenous belief of the people before Buddhism came to accepted as thereligion of the island. Dance forms in Sri Lanka vary according to the regional & local traditions.Everything is different like dresses, drums, songs, way of dancing & movements of hands, legs& fingers.Major festivals & EventsSri Lanka Festival & Events are held in different seasons but the most noticeable feature of thesefestivals is that nearly all major festivals take place or are celebrated on full moon days . FullMoon days are especially significant for this Buddhist country, each full moon or poya day is aBuddhist holiday. Most shops keep their shutters down & the public places of entertainment toomainly remain closed. Red meat or alcohol is not sold in most places & in hotels too alcohol ishard to get.Sri Lanka has an enormous range of Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian & Muslim festivals. The“Kandy Esala Perahera” (July/August) is the countrys most important & spectacular pageant,with 10 days of torch-bearers, whip-crackers, dancers, drummers & elephants lit up like giantbirthday cakes. It climaxes in great procession honouring the Sacred Tooth Relic of Kandy.Second in importance is the Duruthu Perahera (January), held in Colombo, which celebrates avisit by Buddha to Sri Lanka. The Portuguese Cultural Imprint on Sri Lanka
5. The Portuguese era marked the end of medieval Sri Lanka and the beginning of modern SriLanka. It changed the islands orientation away from India and gave it a unique identity mouldedby almost 450 years of Western influence due to the presence of three successive Europeanpowers : the Portuguese (1505-1658), the Dutch (1658-1796) and the British (1796-1948).The Portuguese cultural imprint can be analyzed by examining: (a) those who claim Portuguesedescent (the Portuguese Burghers), (b) those who do not claim Portuguese descent but whofollow the Roman Catholic faith, (c) those who are neither of Portuguese descent nor follow theCatholic faith but nevertheless underwent a sociocultural transformation. Language is anecessary element in the set of culture. The other elements are subjective and could includereligion, food, dress, music and dance. The interaction of the Portuguese and the Sri Lankans ledto the evolution of a new language, Sri Lanka Portuguese Creole, which flourished as a linguafranca in the island for over three and a half centuries (16th to mid-19th). Pidgins and Creolesare contact languages; they evolve when people who do not speak each others mother-tonguecome into contact.Sri Lanka Portuguese Creole, a subset of Indo-Portuguese (the Portuguese Creole that flourishedin coastal India), has been the solution to the inter-communication problems that arose when thePortuguese and Sri Lankans came into contact. In Sri Lanka, miscegenation reinforced theCreole as the mestiços (offspring of a Portuguese father and a Sri Lankan mother) were bilingual– they were proficient in the Creole and Sinhala or Tamil. Which were under Dutch control? In contemporary Sri Lanka, the Creole is limited to the spoken form. The major groups ofspeakers are the Burghers (people of Portuguese and Dutch descent) in the Eastern province(Batticaloa and Trincomalee) and the Kaffirs (people of African origin) in the North-Westernprovince.Influence of BuddhismBuddhism arrived in Sri Lanka more than 2300 years ago. Before the arrival of BuddhismHinduism was practised in the country. Influence of Hinduism did not vanish completely despitethe coming of Buddhism. In Buddhism Sri Lankan society had accepted a religious philosophybased on the rational, where tolerance played significant part. Buddhism did not develop in SriLanka as a state religion. It was liberal in its philosophical content to let other winds flow intothe country. Sri Lanka has adopted the Hinayana or Theravada sect, which is regarded as thetradition coming down Buddhas own disciplesInfluence of Other ReligionsNeighborhood to South India assisted Hinduism, but influence of Buddhism did not lessen.There was lesser influence of Islam, Zoroastrianism, and Christianity, in addition to the pre-Buddhist worship of deities and animism. Some of ancient ways of worship still remain in thetraditions and rituals of Sri Lanka. Trading relations with the Arabs, after the rise of Islam, sawthe country coming in contact with Islam. From the early 16th century, Sri Lanka came understrong influence of the Christians, who came in search of its much valued spices, peacocks, gemsand elephants. Gradually they also became rulers of the country.Organizational cultures in SrilankaSuccessful organizations in Sri Lanka have organizational culture consist with moreindividualistic workers. Organization structures in the successful companies have speedy top-
6. bottom communication flows. These features are different from those of the western culture.This result indicates there exist the taller hierarchies, larger power distance and centralization indeveloping countries like Sri Lankan. This situation may be due to the influence by the SriLankan family tradition. In a traditional Sri Lankan family, the father is the respected head andhe is unques tioned. He has a sole responsibility of his family, and therefore controlling power. Ifthis tradition is working in the organization, it can be expected a strong authoritarian styleleadership. Though the mean values showed a tendency towards group decision making in all thedecision areas, a significant difference was derived in the decision of functional objectives, butnot in other areas. It was found that rather distinct corporate culture exists in organizations in SriLanka. More comprehensive study is needed to understand the uniqueness of this culture andboth positive and negative impacts of corporate culture on performance in Sri Lanka.At a rudimentary level, cultural studies is grounded in critical theory and literary criticism.Cultural studies primarily examines political nature of contemporary culture and also itshistorical foundations, conflicts and defining traits. It is on these lines that cultural studiesdistinguishes itself, by and large, from academics from anthropology and ethnic studies in bothobjectives and methodologies employed.Cultural studies is a multi-disciplinary field which encompasses myriads of subjects such asfeminist theory, social theory, political theory, history, philosophy, literary theory, media theory,film/video studies, communication studies, political economy, translation studies, museumstudies and art history/criticism to study cultural phenomena in various societies. The core logicof the multi-disciplinary nature of cultural studies is that it seeks to understand the ways in whichmeaning is generated, disseminated and produced through diverse practices, belief systems,institutions and political, economic or social structure within the confines of a given culture.Globalization and its impact on Srilankan Culture.