The island being a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country has multiple religious and cultural festivals all year around.. The main festival of Sri Lanka is the Sinhalese and the Tamil New Year, which is celebrated in April by both Sinhalese and the Tamils of the island.
Sinhala and Tamil new Year
Sinhala and Tamil New Year is celebrated in all parts of the island in accordance with astrological beliefs and Hindu and Buddhist traditions.. The new year is believed to occur during the transitional period of when the sun moves from the house of Pisces to the house of Aries in the Celestial sphere This phenomenon usually takes place in the 2nd week of April and thus April is considered the most prosperous month of the year.
There are many rituals performed during the Sinhala and Tamil New year that can be observed during your stay along with an opportunity to taste some of the local traditional sweets that are made for the celebrations such as Kavum (oil cakes), kokis (a crisp light sweet), aluwa (made with flour and treacle), Aasmee etc ..
The New year is also a time to participate in traditional local games. The most popular among these traditional games are the 'Olinda Keliya' which is an in-house board game. The traditional outdoor games are swinging, raban (drum) beating, Chak Gudu. There are also competitions where the contestant is blindfolded such as marking the eye of the elephant in the correct place while blindfolded and tbreaking a hanging pot by hitting it with a stick. As per your preference, you are most welcome to take part in these games and enjoy the memorable experience.
Thai Pongal is a Hindu religious festival held in the middle of January which is celebrated around the world by the Hindus and is associated with thanksgiving to the sun and the sun's energy. "Thai" is the first month of the year in Tamil and "Pongal" is milk boiling over – literally translating to "prosperity over flowing". Thus when thel milk is boiled and overflowing, the festival begins.
Thai Pongal is believed to usher a new dawn and usually falls on the 14th of January every year with celebrations taking place over three days. The most favorite food of the festival is 'Pongal Rice' which is rice cooked in a boiling pot of milk with Jaggery, Sugar cane syrup, raisins and cashews.
It is common to see the Hindu homes decorated with Plantain trees and Mango leaves with the floor of the entrance decorated with patterns drawn using colored rice.
If you are interested you are free to enjoy some Pongal rice with some Hindu villagers with the assistance of your concierge service; HTCey Leisure.
The independence day of Sri Lanka is a great national occasion celebrated with parades and pageants combined with the spirit of loyalty and national pride. The celebrations begin with the hoisting of the national flag and singing the national anthem at the Independence Square in Colombo, followed by the traditional lighting of the lamp ceremony. Subsequently there are various cultural programs displaying on the streets of Colombo.
The independence day of Sri Lanka is a great national occasion celebrated with parades and pageants combined with the spirit of patriotism and national pride. The celebrations begin with the hoisting of the national flag and singing the national anthem, followed by the traditional lighting of the lamp ceremony. Subsequently there are various cultural programs as well as serving of refreshments. And it has a great history. The history that go back towards 4th Feb 1948. Prior to the year 1972, Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon. For more than a century Sri Lanka was a British crown colony but on 4 February, 1948 the country achieved its independence to officially become the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Don Stephen Senanayake became Sri Lanka's first Prime Minister.
Wesak is a main religious festival for Buddhists all over the world . The festival falls on the full moon Poya day of the month of May when Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. Buddhists celebrate by going to the temples and observing 'Sil' during the day and by giving alms to the poor mostly at night. The roads are usually decorated with Wesak lanterns and Pandols and thus the roadsides are beautiful at night. It is a tradition for most households to decorate their homes with lanterns. if you intend to visit the island at this time of the year, be sure to have a visit around in the city where ever you are located.
The Poson festival commemorates the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka and it falls on the full moon poya day in June.. Although Poson is celebrated throughout the island, the major ceremonies are to be found in Anuradhapura and its suburb Mihintale. Devotees visit the Mihintale Temple where Mahinda Thero first placed his foot to preach the word of Lord Buddha to Sri Lankansl. Many religious activities are organized during this poson period and roads are usully decorated with Poson pandols( thoran) and lanterns just like during the Wesak Season.
Christmas is celebrated in Sri Lanka as much as it is celebrated around the world by Christians. The month of December turns in to a festive atmosphere with many concerts, carol services etc organised during the month. The season also brings out the bright coloured lights in all most all buildings around town with well decorated chirtsmas trees in major hotel lobbys and office buildings as well as homes and apartments.
You may find a number of fiestas and shopping festivals in preparation for Christmas around Colombo and for those of who are shopaholics this is indeed a the best time to visit the country. You may find street vendors of toys and Christmas decor and various items in the bazaars in Colombo festivals as well as in organized shopping If you are in Sri Lanka on your vacation during the Christmas season, make sure you enjoy the memorable Christmas carols and a piece of Christmas cake!
Ramadan is a festival celebrated by Muslims all around the world, and the Muslims in Sri Lanka too celebrate the festival in grand style. The end of 40 days of fasting is celebrated with much festivity where meals are shared with the poor and with the neighbours.
During the Ramadan season it is a common to see many Muslim traditional food such as Kanji – the delicious rice porridge and Samosa – a famous street food prepared by Muslims, to be available in street side shops. Many Muslims also have breakfast ceremonies where others from different communities are invited to their homes to participate in the celebrations. It is common during celebrations of Ramadan for Muslims to share their food with the poor and also with other communities.
The Famous dishes of Savan and bowls of Jaggery Pudding also known as Watalappam is sent around as a means of sharing and is also sent to the neighbors as a festival treat. Be sure to taste these delicious foods while on holiday.