Thursday, 24 October, 2019

Category: Destinations

Destinations with Religious and Historical Importance in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean.

History

The earliest human remains found on the island of Sri Lanka date to about 35,000 years ago (Balangoda Man).

The proto-historical period begins roughly in the 3rd century, based on chronicles like the Mahavamsa, Dipavamsa, and the Culavamsa. The earliest documents of settlement in the Island are found in these chronicles. These chronicles cover the period since the establishment of the Kingdom of Tambapanni in the 6th century BCE. The first Sri Lankan ruler of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, Pandukabhaya, is recorded for the 4th century BCE. Buddhism was introduced in the 3rd century BCE by Arhath Mahinda (son of the Indian emperor Ashoka). The first Tamil ruler of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, Ellalan, an invader, is recorded for the 2nd century BCE.

The island was divided into numerous kingdoms over the following centuries, intermittently (between CE 993–1077) united under Chola rule. Sri Lanka was ruled by 181 monarchs from the Anuradhapura to Kandy periods. From the 16th century, some coastal areas of the country were also controlled by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Between 1597 and 1658, a substantial part of the island was under Portuguese rule. The Portuguese lost their possessions in Ceylon due to Dutch intervention in the Eighty Years’ War. Following the Kandyan Wars, the island was united under British rule in 1815. Armed uprisings against the British took place in the 1818 Uva Rebellion and the 1848 Matale Rebellion. Independence was finally granted in 1948 but the country remained a Dominion of the British Empire until 1972.

In 1972 Sri Lanka assumed the status of a Republic. A constitution was introduced in 1978 which made the Executive President the head of state. The Sri Lankan Civil War began in 1983, including an armed youth uprising in 1971 and 1987–1989, with the 25-year-long civil war ending in 2009.

Religion

Sri Lanka is a multi-religious country. Buddhists comprise 70 percent of the population, with the Theravada school being predominant. Most Buddhists are of the Sinhalese ethnic group. Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 2nd century BCE by Venerable Mahinda. A sapling of the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment was brought to Sri Lanka during the same time. The Pali Canon (Thripitakaya), having previously been preserved as an oral tradition, was first committed to writing in Sri Lanka around 30 BCE.

Sri Lanka has the longest continuous history of Buddhism of any predominately Buddhist nation, with the Sangha having existed in a largely unbroken lineage since its introduction in the 2nd century BCE. During periods of decline, the Sri Lankan monastic lineage was revived through contact with Thailand and Burma. Buddhism is given special recognition in the Constitution which requires Sri Lankans to “protect and foster the Buddha Sasana”.

Hinduism is the second most prevalent religion in Sri Lanka and predates Buddhism. Today, Hinduism is dominant in Northern, Eastern and Central Sri Lanka. Hindus are mainly Tamils.

Islam is the third most dominant religion in the country, having first been brought to the island by Arab traders over the course of many centuries, starting around the 7th century CE. Most Muslims are Sunni who follow the Shafi’i school. Most followers of Islam in Sri Lanka today are believed to be descendants of those Arab traders and the local women they married.

Christianity reached the country through Western colonists in the early 16th century. Around 7.4% of the Sri Lankan population are Christians, of which 82% are Roman Catholics who trace their religious heritage directly to the Portuguese. The remaining Christians are evenly split between the Anglican Church of Ceylon and other Protestant denominations.

There is also a small population of Zoroastrian immigrants from India (Parsis) who settled in Ceylon during the period of British rule, but this community has steadily dwindled in recent years. Religion plays a prominent role in the life and culture of Sri Lankans. The Buddhist majority observe Poya Days each month according to the Lunar calendar, and Hindus and Muslims also observe their own holidays. In a 2008 Gallup poll, Sri Lanka was ranked the third most religious country in the world, with 99% of Sri Lankans saying religion was an important part of their daily life.


Dhowa ancient rock temple AKA Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya is a Buddhist temple built inside a cave by an ancient Sri Lankan king Valagmba 2000+ years ago.


  Kirinda is an ancient minor port which attracts tourists daily for its magnificent surroundings along with beach and rock temple. This area is dated back to 2nd century BC, of ancient Srilankan history and it is believed that the Read more…


 Temple of sacred tooth relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka is the most venerable temple among Buddhists in Sri Lanka and all around the world. The temple, which is a part of the king’s royal palace of Kandyan era. This is Read more…