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Sri Lanka Society & Culture : Customs, Rituals & Traditions


Sri Lankan Music, Theatre and Dancing z_p22-kandy1.jpg (16590 bytes)

Sri Lankan Weddings: Customs & Traditions

Kandyan Customs & Traditions

Ancient Lankan Customs & Rituals

Buddhist Ceremonies & Rituals

Vesak festival
  • Wesak festival ( One of the biggest religious festivals of Sri Lanka, Vesak - a thrice-blessed day for Buddhists as it commemorates the birth of Buddha, his attaining Enlightenment and his passing away into Nirvana.)
  • The Vesak pandal (Thorana) ( The happiest occasion for children are the Vesak nights when they go out with their parents and friends to view the lights and other decorations in their respective villages and or cities )
  • Vesak lanterns (Vesak is the Buddhist 'festival of light'. Light -no more the flickering candle or oil lamp flame, but the harsh electric bulb- plays a huge part in the religious observances of this Thrice Blessed Day.)

Village life: Ceremonies & Rituals

Sri Lanka New Year ( Aluth Avurudda )

Sinhala & Tamil New Year festival

The Hindus and Buddhists in Sri Lanka celebrate their New Year (Avurudu) either on the 13th or 14th of April. This event is  erroneously called Sinhala and Tamil New Year. Not all the Sinhalese and not all the Tamils celebrate the new year in April. It is the Buddhists and Hindus that celebrate this event in April. The Christians in both communities celebrate the New Year  on the 1st of January.

  • Sinhala and Tamil New Year - Introduction (In April (the month of Bak) the islanders (Sri Lankans) celebrate their National New Year Aluth Avurudhu in Sinhala and Puththandu in Tamil. The sun moving from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries) signals the dawning of the Sinhala/Tamil New Year. )
  • Avurudu Rituals ( Sinhala and Hindu New Year custom and traditions are mainly based on Ayurveda system of Medicine which has been developed on the Principles of Hindu Philosophy. )
  • The Sinhala & Tamil New Year: Festival overlaid by legend and myth and shrowded by superstition ( The mythological conception of a `Aluth Avuruddha' is that the Prince of Peace called Indradeva descends upon the earth to ensure peace and happiness. He comes in a white carriage wearing on his head a white floral crown seven cubits high. He first dips, like a returning space capsule plunges, breaking earth's gravity, into a `kiri' or sea of milk. )
  • The Sinhala & Tamil New Year: How the Tamils celebrate the New Year (Giving thanks to the Sun God is observed by making ``Pongal''. The Hindus always begin by worshipping and offering poojas to Lord Wina Vinayaga to have his blessing in the coming year for prosperity. ) 
  • Sinhala Avurudu: Recalling a New Year of yesteryear (The first bath for the New Year had to be taken at an auspicious time as well. For this a special herbal oil was brought from the temple.) 
  • Sinhala Avurudu: Socio-anthropological significance of `Avurudu' (The history of the New Year goes back to our primitive period in history. Various beliefs, perhaps those associated with fertility, gave birth to many rituals, customs and ceremonies connected with the New Year. ) 
  • Memories of Sinhala Avurudu of a bygone era( During Sinhala Avurudu time the whole village transformed itself into a grand festival. ) 
  • The Sinhala Hindu New Year ( celebrated in the month of Bak according to the Sinhalese calendar. The name ‘Bak’ derives from the Sanskrit word ‘bhagya’ meaning ‘fortunate’. )
  • New Year - a national festival for Sri Lanka ( The "cukoo" call of the ‘Koha’ during the harvesting time of Maha, the major rice crop in Sri Lanka, reminds that the New Year is approaching. And the beautiful Erobodu flowers begin to blossom. )
  •  Customs and rituals of Aluth Avurudda (Most of the rituals are based on times calculated according to astrology. ‘Aluth Sahal Mangallaya’, ‘Esala Keliya’ and ‘Karthikeiya Mangalliya’ are essentially indigenous ceremonies based on the beliefs woven around agriculture.)
  • Mythological & Astrological conception of Sinhala & Hindu New Year (The mythological conception concerning the Sinhala 'Aluth Avurudda', more appropriately known as the Hindu New Year (Puduvaruddam), is that the Prince of Peace (Indradeva alias Sakradeva), the god who controls thunder, lightening, wind and rain, and the principal god of the Thavathimsa celestial abode, who is always in conflict with the 'Asuras' (demons), comes down to earth, to ensure peace and happiness for mankind)New
  • Anointing the king's head with 'nanu' (The physicians had to superintend the preparation of a thousand pots of the herbal oil, making use of wild medicinal plants supposed to contain certain mysterious powers to maintain good health. They were kalanduru-ala, sevendra-mul, iriveriya, vishnukranti, asasanda, godamanel-ala, nelum-dandu, nasnaran-mul, eetana, venivelgeta, kohomba-kola, kumkumappu, and gorochana)

    Ayurveda: Natural Healing with the combination of mind, body, and the soul

    SRI LANKA PEOPLEOther Ceremonies & Rituals

  • Funeral rites in Sri Lanka  ( Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims observe different funeral rites when it comes to burying or cremating their dead.After the funeral is over, Buddhists offer 'dana' (alms) to bhikkus on the 7th day and on the 3rd month and at the end of one year, which is considered compulsory, and the merits of such offerings are transferred to the dead to release themselves from any woeful state.) New
  • Snake charmers of Sri Lanka ( A snake charmer begins his performance by removing the lid of the snake basket and playing a few notes on his flute. As if in response to the summoning of the strange and melancholy tune, the cobra will slither out of the basket and gaze around at the growing circle of onlookers. ) 
  • Diyareddha - bathing costume by Sri Lankan women ( The Diyareddha is the most widely used bathing costume by women of Asian countries including Sri Lanka. It is a piece of cloth similar to a sarong. Ladies tie it just above the swell of their breasts and the cloth reaches down their knees.)
  • The Duruthu Perahera at Kelaniya ( A colorful and exciting pageant or perahera will take place in Kelaniya during the month of January)
  • Walli Yak mangallaya (According to myth, legend, and folklore, Gara Yakka has no evil disposition toward humans. But, he has an evil eye; all he wants is to eat- the satisfaction he demands is for his appetite. He is said to have the capacity to eat more than any other devil in the nether world.)
  • Greetings Rituals in Sri Lanka ( Sheaves of betel also play an important part in greetings)
  • Akuru Kiyaweema : A solemn rite of learning in Sri Lanka
  • Rate mahatmayas and korale mahatamayas ( Rate mahatmayas and korale mahatamayas have been household names during the British Raj in Sri Lanka )
  • Buddhist Ceremonies and Rituals of Sri Lanka ( While the specific forms of ritual and ceremony in Sri Lankan popular Buddhism doubtlessly evolved over the centuries, it seems likely that this devotional approach to the Dhamma has its roots in lay Buddhist practice even during the time of the Buddha himself ) 


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