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Golden Temple of Dambulla
Temple of the Tooth

Indian Subcontinent >> Sri Lanka >> Culture of Sri Lanka

Culture of Sri Lanka

As in much of Asia, 'culture’ is very much a part of everyday life for most people in Sri Lanka. Beautifully carved and painted old temples like the Temple of the Tooth, Gadaldeniya Temple and the Sita Eliya Temple nestle next to Buddhist viharas (monasteries) on the one hand and old Dutch or Portuguese bungalows and forts – on the other.

There are plenty of examples of Sri Lanka’s rich cultural tradition to be seen all around – marketplaces are flooded with beautiful handloom cloth, batik work, traditional jewellery, carved and painted wood masks and elephants and a lot more. Native dances, music and theatre thrive, not just on stages in tourist resorts, but also in processions and celebrations. The spectacular `Perahera’ festivals, combining dances, elephant marches and religious ceremonies are just one of the many instances of cultural activity.

Sri Lanka produces quite a lot of beautiful handicrafts from indigenous materials, using local as well as foreign techniques and patterns. Among the most widely produced handicrafts are the vibrant, colourful painted wooden masks which are used in ceremonies and as good luck charms to ward off the evil eye.

Other than masks, handloom cloth, batik, leatherwork, coir goods, lacquer ware, jewellery, brassware, and earthenware are also major handicrafts. A certain amount of work is also done in ivory and tortoiseshell, but elephants and tortoises being endangered species, it is definitely not advisable to buy such items.

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