You already know that Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic and a multi religious country having different mannerisms and socio-cultural practices. The Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and Malay races live all over the country, in varied proportions. Religions practiced are Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. It is good to be sensitive to these differences and experience the diversity of each.
Like in many other countries, people in urban areas behave very differently to those in the rural settings. People in the cities speak English and are perhaps more exposed to the world. But newspapers, television and radio have widespread coverage in Sri Lanka, also exposing the rural folk to the world, in contrast to some other places. Sri Lanka has a over 90% literacy rate, a widespread school education system with access to social welfare.
Sri Lankan’s have a relaxed lifestyle. The climate of eternal summer allows them to be content and have a relaxed and happy life style. There is greenery all over, the soil fertile and rich, with constant sunshine and adequate rain.
Visit to temples and other religious places must be done with much care and respect. You are expected to remove your shoes and hats when entering places of worship and be dressed in long dresses that cover most of your body. White is the widely used color. Other not so bright tones of color dresses are ok too. The best it to observe the behaviour of the local people or get a briefing from an interpreter/guide on what the best practices are.
Some places of religious importance and/or cultural sites do not allow photography or video recording. Best is to ask or refer the signs before deciding to take pictures at these places and/or sites.
Nudism is not an accepted practice. Nude bathing in public places is a big NO, NO. Rural Sri Lankan men wear a loin cloth (sin. amudei) or a sarong when bathing while the women also wear a sarong or a cloth covering the body from chest to knees.
Kissing, hugging and public demonstration of intimate behavior is considered impolite. If you must demonstrate your love for your partner, please be respectful and mindful of the social environment.
Like at any other destination, there are touts, thieves and unscrupulous persons among the Sri Lankans. Although, they are a few, you are warned not to be duped by them. Do not confront them but politely say “No thank you”. If they insist on bothering you further, please walk away. Anger does not help.
Alcoholism, drug usage (illegal as well) and smoking (banned in public places) cause poverty, ill health and other negative social issues. Please try to make a good role model and be an example to the local people through your behaviour.
Items made of ivory, turtle, local coral based products, antique items and other bio-diversity associated produce should not be bought or sold. Please be aware of items that you can take away from Sri Lanka before you buy them, for you have problems at the airport at the time of departure.
There is a lot more to Sri Lanka that meets the eye. From this series of articles we plan let you know what to expect and what not to expect during your travels in Sri Lanka. If you are planning a holiday, explore our tours or even plan your bespoke holiday with us. Possibilities are endless!