Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, the caste system means that Sri Lanka can be described as a hierarchical society. The social hierarchy helps to make the Lankes happy to be formal in contact with strangers. Title and surname are used in speeches when you do not know each other.
Older people are happy to greet each other with their hands in front of their chest. Men can shake hands, while women often avoid physical contact with strangers. Long-suffering people who know each other usually greet by just smiling and nodding.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Sri Lanka, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
It is important not to lose face or dignity in social contexts. Therefore, lankeser preferably avoids publicly criticizing a person. For the same reason, they may find it difficult to say no to a question, but instead prefer to answer avoidance.
If you want to hand over a business card, gift or the like, you have to do it with both hands. Avoid giving flowers, they are associated with grief. Also, don’t give away a wine or whiskey bottle unless you know for sure that the recipient is drinking alcohol. Hindus should not be given leather goods.
At a dinner invitation, it is usual to sit at the table only after a few hours. A guest should thus avoid getting hungry. When the meal has gradually been enjoyed, it may soon be time to break up.
Foreign guests should remember to eat only with their right hand, if no cutlery is offered. Use bread or rice to get the food from the plate. Leave some food on the plate when you are satisfied, otherwise you signal that you want more.
Rice and curry are basic foods. White rice is supplemented with a number of curry dishes that may contain vegetables, meat or fish. They often contain coconut milk and are heavily seasoned. The food is often eaten with different flat breads and some variation of chilli, sambal. A Sri Lankan specialty is hoppers, thin sourdough pancakes made from rice, and string hoppers, the freshness of fresh rice noodles.
Traditionally, lankeses have mainly eaten food at home, but nowadays restaurants are common in the cities. Both Hindus and Buddhists may be reluctant to eat food prepared by any of the lower castes. Alcohol is formally condemned by Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims but is consumed in fairly large quantities. Local spirits are arrak or toddy, made from palm juice.
Traditions and holidays
As Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian holidays are observed, the number of holidays is large. In addition, there are some national holidays, such as Independence Day on February 4 and Labor Day on May 1. According to Countryaah, New Year is celebrated by Sinhalese and Tamils for a week in April. It is also a harvest party when you dress up in new clothes, eat well and play games.
At each full moon, the Buddhists celebrate so-called poya days. In May, the celebration is particularly extensive with Vesak, when the birth and life of Buddha are celebrated. People head to the temples dressed in white, and thousands of lanterns light. In the city of Kandy, for several days in July or August, the esala parahera – the dental festival – is celebrated with dances and magnificently decorated elephants in procession. The sacred tooth found in Kandy is considered to have been Buddha. The Hindus celebrate, among other things, dipawali, a light festival, while the Muslims observe the fasting month of Ramadan and the Christians celebrate Christmas.
The country’s highest judge is accused of corruption
The Rajapaksa government is suing the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Shirani Bandaranayake, for corruption, something she firmly denies. The government-dominated parliament is launching a judicial process against Bandaranayake, despite the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal ruling that the process violates the law. According to Bandaranayake’s supporters, the Supreme Court’s decision to oppose the government’s plans to centralize power (see October 2012) is behind the government’s accusations against her.
Political unrest erupts in Jaffna
For the first time since the end of the war in May 2009, political unrest erupted in the city of Jaffna in the northern, Tamil-dominated part of Sri Lanka. This happens in conjunction with students at Jaffna University, on November 27, marking the Martyrs’ Day, which is celebrated by some Tamil langes in the rapture. Students light candles to honor the memory of fallen Tamil rebels. Also posters depicting guerrillas, so-called “Tamil tigers”, must have been set up in previously rebel-controlled areas. The police then intervene, according to police, to have thrown stones at them.
The Supreme Court opposes centralization
The Supreme Court puts a stalemate on the government’s plans to bring more power to the central government from the provinces when it states that in that case the provincial parliaments must approve such a change in law.
Fonseka holds a political meeting
Former Chief of Defense Sarath Fonseka holds his first major political meeting since he was released from prison (see May 2012). The turnover is considerably worse than expected; only around a thousand people show up. This is believed to be due to heavy monsoon rains falling during the meeting, but also because the opposition is deeply divided before Fonseka’s comeback.
The country’s university is temporarily closed
Extensive strikes in the academic world (see July 2012) result in the government temporarily shutting down 13 of the country’s 15 universities, all of which are state. The strikes end when the government partially agrees with the demands of university teachers and other academics on increased salaries and government grants, as well as greater academic freedom from political involvement.
Strike against political involvement in academic life
University teachers and other academics around the country are launching a strike in protest against what they consider to be increasing political interference in the conditions for academic activity. They require the government and the authorities to stay out of the university world and to increase teacher salaries and grants for higher education. The strikers oppose the government’s plans to privatize parts of higher education, which are currently completely state-owned.
Fonseka is released from prison
President Rajapaksa decides that the imprisoned former Defense Chief Sarath Fonseka should be released for health reasons. One condition for the release is that Fonseka will not hold any political office for the next seven years.
Buddhists storm mosque
Tough, conservative Buddhists storm a mosque in the city of Dambulla and demand that the building be demolished. The authorities agree to move the mosque, triggering a strike among Muslims.
UN resolution awakens the anger of the Lanes
The UN Human Rights Council calls in a resolution in Sri Lanka to investigate the allegations of human rights crimes committed in the final phase of the civil war in May 2009. The resolution is tabled by the United States and supported by 24 countries, while 15 countries vote against and 8 abstain. Reactions in Sri Lanka are getting strong and many people are protesting against the UN resolution.
The government is unclear about the number of casualties
About 9,000 people were killed in northern Sri Lanka during the end of the civil war in May 2009, according to government statistics. Of these, just over 7,000 died in combat. It is unclear whether the figure includes civilian casualties or guerrilla soldiers alone. It is also not clear which party in the war caused the deaths.