Travels / Articles /

Ceylon: customs and foundations of modern Sri Lanka

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

Цейлон: обычаи и устои современной Шри-Ланки

It should, perhaps, immediately understand the sometimes confusing names: Ceylon is not a country name, but islands in the northern Indian Ocean, on the island the state of Sri Lanka is located, officially it sounds like this: the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. This island state has two capitals - a little-known town with the complex name of Sri Jayavardanapura Kotte (here are the country's parliament and the supreme court), and the large metropolis Colombo (here is the residence of the President of Sri Lanka and government agencies).

More than 21 million people live in Sri Lanka, mostly Sinhalese (or Sinhalese -74%), Tamils ​​- Lankan (13%) and Indian (6%), as well as small communities of descendants of European colonists - Dutch and Portuguese, burghers, and Arabs ("Moors", only about 7%).

Further you go - you will be quiet?

На Шри-Ланке дружелюбны от мала до велика

Hospitality, open character and cheerful friendliness of the Lankans are celebrated by all those who visited Ceylon. The broad smiles of the swarthy islanders seem to accompany the tourists during the whole trip. But if you look at the daily behavior of the Sri Lankans, you can notice an interesting feature: they never raise their voice and do not speak loudly, neither in joy, nor in anger. Moreover, to raise the voice and generally behave noisily, according to them, is the height of disrespect and obscene behavior, this should be remembered for everyone who first goes to Sri Lanka.

"Noiseless" behavior of the Lankans, which does not coincide with our notions of a violent southern temperament, is due to 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 deaf jungle. Both main religions adhere to the doctrine of the transience of earthly existence, preach detachment from worldly vanity, the desire for peace and nirvana, perhaps this is the reason for the "quiet" lifestyle of the Lankans.

Sensitive theme

Тамильские протесты на Шри-Ланке

Strange as it sounds in the light of all the above, it is religion that is the main and most acute problem of modern Sri Lanka. More precisely, religious strife. Information agencies now and then bring reports of bloody armed clashes between Sinhalese and Tamils. These religious quarrels are rooted in the centuries-old colonial period in the history of Ceylon, when the British authorities forcibly deported to the island to work on tea plantations, many thousands of Tamils ​​from mainland India. Since then, the island is smoldering, then the interreligious and interethnic conflict flares up.

We must admit that there is no information that foreign tourists, and in general foreigners, suffered during the clashes between Sinhalese and Tamils. The authorities in Sri Lanka are trying in every way to localize the conflict, in the cities it is reminiscent of only a large number of military patrols on the streets. This creates certain problems when photographing: tourists are not allowed to shoot not only purely military facilities, but also state institutions, banks, offices of companies, etc., including the military personnel themselves.

However, this kind of problems arise in tourists not only with the military - ordinary Lankans react 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. The photographing of Buddhist monks is not welcome, and the Lancians themselves are not always willing to pose for shooting, in such cases they need to ask permission. And one more recommendation: do not rush to grab for the camera when you see a luxury white car decorated with white ribbons - it's a funeral, not a wedding! White color in Ceylon is a color of sorrow, at weddings the shades of red predominate.

Holidays in Sri Lanka - almost half a year

Праздники на Шри-Ланке – почти полгода

The theme of the holidays can not be bypassed when describing the customs of any people. In this sense, Sri Lanka gives a huge amount of material - 170 holidays are celebrated annually! This is despite the fact that there are not many official holiday dates. On a five-day working week, 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 are considered holiday non-working days. (Christian Christmas). In addition, the full moon date is considered a monthly holiday and a non-working day. By the way, the use of alcohol on a full moon day and noisy fun in Sri Lanka is not welcome.

The remaining numerous holidays are of a religious and mythological character, the largest and most spectacular of them is Esala Perakhera, celebrations dedicated to the Tooth of the Buddha. This holiday is celebrated in August and lasts 10-11 days. Esala Perakhera, perhaps, is the only holiday in which the traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism combine. The scope of the celebrations can be judged at least by the fact that, as evidenced by eyewitnesses, next morning after the festive night, the square in front of the temples is usually covered with sleeping tired people and ... elephants (also asleep)!

Almost native Asian food

Кухня на Шри-Ланке

The cuisine in Ceylon, like everywhere in South and South-East Asia, is quite sharp. Experts say that according to taste characteristics, Sri Lanka cuisine is close to European. In any case, tourists are not offered tourists of doubtful delicacies like snakes or sea worms, as in other countries, although seafood in the national cuisine is used. Lancians themselves like everyday food prefer well-known throughout the world curry - here it is not a sauce and not even a separate dish, but a whole culinary direction. The basis of curry in Lankan serves as boiled or fried rice, then everything depends on the skill and imagination of the cook - in rice, vegetables, meat, fish, seafood and, of course, very sharp sauces, prepared according to different methods, are added.

Sri Lanka is rightly called the "paradise for vegetarians". Such an abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables, fantastically, by our standards, cheap, you will not find, perhaps, anywhere in the world. And in the diet of Lankans, fresh vegetables and fruits occupy a very large place. Maybe this is one of the reasons for their amazing longevity?

Rules of the right and left hand

Many people who visited Sri Lanka paid attention to one strange feature of the behavior of the Sri Lankans. They not only never eat anything with their left hand - just the right one, but they are also visibly nervous when foreigners do it. The thing is that the people of Sri Lanka do not use toilet paper for their intended purpose. And for a well-known hygienic procedure resort to the help of a special hand shower, while manipulating with the left hand. She then do nothing, eating, shaking hands - everything is done with her right hand.

In a hot tropical climate, this hygienic method is fully justified and even worthy of imitation. But if you are left-handed, try not to use your left hand at the table in the presence of the Sri Lankans and never give them your left hand for greeting! And in general handshakes should be avoided, and greet the local residents according to their custom: folding the palms on their chests with a "house" and raising them to the level of the forehead. In return, you will certainly be given a radiant smile!