Arts & Culture

There is a lot that can be said about Sri Lanka’s arts and culture. Sri Lanka has been influenced by colonialism & religions for centuries which resulted in evolving the culture in a sort of unique way.

Sri Lanka’s population practices a variety of religions, mainly Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. It is said that Sri Lanka is one of the most religious countries in the world not just because the variety of religions and practices but mostly due to the local population that places religion as a very important part of their daily lives.

Aukala Buddha


Buddhism dominates with 70% of Sri Lanka’s population. Hindus place second having 12.6% of its population. Hinduism said to survive in the country since it is supported by South Indian and Orissan dynasties that conquered parts of the island through history.

Only few Sri Lankan’s embrace Islam, only about 9.7% of the population, mostly from the Moor and Malay ethnic communities on the island. It is said the Christianity in Sri Lanka heavily declined ever since the end of colonial ruleOnly 8% of the population remains Christian which is mostly Roman Catholic, Anglican and Protestant.


Because of the different religions, Sri Lanka is known for its temples! Numerous Buddhist and Hindu temples make every place of the country sacred.

Sri Lanka is also rich of festivals, celebrations and tradition.

The Kandyan dance is a traditional dance that Sri Lanka almost lost during the British colonization due to the cultural domination imposed by the ruling empire. Fortunately, it was later on revived and the tradition continued.

One of the traditional festivals in Sri Lanka is the Esala Perahera or the festival of the tooth. It is a grand festival with elegant costumes and parades of elephants held in July or August in Kandy.

Sigiriya - Lion Rock
Sigiriya – Lion Rock

When talking about Sri Lanka’s culture is worth to mentioning the Cultural Triangle which includes Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla.

These cities are typical tourist destinations where ancient buildings, paintings such as frescoes and statues from prehistory can be admired.

The rock city known as Sigiriya (known as the Lion Rock), is one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning with the particularity that it was built on top of gigantic rock.  The ancient city of Sigiriya is one of the most visited historical places in Sri Lanka.

The Cave Temple of Dambulla is the biggest and most preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka home for several ancient frescoes and over 150 statues of Buddha, Gods and Goddesses and few Kings of Sri Lanka.

Both the Lion Rock and the Cave Temple of Dambulla are Unesco world heritage sites.

Sri Lanka handcrafted mask
Sri Lanka handcrafted mask

Sri Lankan art includes also Batiks, masks, pottery and jewellery craft. Most of these are still handcrafted as per tradition.

Sri Lankan culture, arts and tradition are definitely few of the aspects that anyone travelling to the island should not miss.

Updated on 15/05/2016

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