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Updated by Roxwell Peterson on Aug 03, 2016
Headline for Cultural festivals in Sri Lanka - Customary celebrations!
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Cultural festivals in Sri Lanka - Customary celebrations!

The vast & rich cultural diversity of Sri Lanka has contributed to the identity that it holds today. Some of the Sri Lankan culture & traditions hold customs & rituals passed down over 2000 years.

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Independence Day

Independence Day

The Independence Day of Sri Lanka is celebrated on 4th February. Sri Lanka became an independent country in 1948 when Sri Lankans reigned against the British colony. This is a national holiday in the country, and you see many homes hoisting the national flag to commemorate the day. A special state ceremony is held in Colombo every year where you see traditional processions, military parades, firing of canons, religious and cultural performances all of this to pay tribute to the forefathers of the land for their triumph to free the land.

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Sinhala and Tamil New Year

Sinhala and Tamil New Year

While most countries celebrate the New Year on 1st of January, it is customary for the Sinhala Buddhist and the Tamil Hindus of Sri Lanka to mark the dawn of New Year in the month of April according to the astrological calendar. When the sun moves from the house of Pisces to the house of Aries in the celestial sphere Sri Lankan's begin their New Year. It marks the end of the harvest season and also coincides with one of two instances when the sun is directly above Sri Lanka. The dawn of a New Year is usually on 14th of April however the time, which the New Year begins, varies according to astrological times so it's a different time of the day every year. The celebrants usually start preparing for the event two weeks ahead. Once the New Year dawns, there's a time to prepare milk rice, which is the main meal of the day for both Sinhalese and Hindus. There's an array of traditional oily sweets mostly prepared at home or store bought. Gifts are exchanged and plates full of traditional sweets are exchanged between neighbours and family members. There are plenty of traditional games and interesting rituals associated with the festivities.

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Vesak

Vesak

Celebrated on the full moon day in the month of May, Vesak is a religious and cultural festival. Celebrated mainly by the Buddhists in Sri Lanka it is also another festival that brings together all communities and those of different faiths. On Vesak day there are various religious activities organized, Buddhists go to the temple for worship, colourful Vesak lanterns are hung everywhere and of course the Dansal (free distribution of food and beverage) is one of the highlights of the day. You also find brightly lit elaborate pandols set up on public spaces, these pandols talk of a story related to Buddhism. During the Vesak Festival, the government has prohibited selling of alcohol and meat in shops or supermarkets.

Vesak actually falls under International events and festivals. Apart from Sri Lanka, other Asian countries including India, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan also celebrate Vesak, for detailed information on the celebrations you can always browse the Events and Festivals Blog.