Arts and Culture of Sri Lanka

Cultural and religious diversity is one of the remarkable features of Sri Lanka and as one moves towards the countryside these diversities become more discernable. Religion is intrinsically interwoven in almost all aspects of life in Sri Lanka and it is a key element in the country's diversities. Most of the country's arts have originated from religious values, depicted in many art forms like painting, architecture, sculpture, music, literature and so on.

The most popular places to visit to experience first hand art and culture are:

  • Polonnaruwa
  • Anuradhapura
  • Kandy
  • Galle
  • Trincomalee

Religious Influences


Buddhist and Hindu temples along with mosques and churches depict the cultural landscapes with their individual colorful rituals. The revival of Buddhism particularly had a great influence in the art and culture of Sri Lanka. The Buddhist temples were embellished with paintings which also had its non- religious functions. Most popular examples of the greatest Sri Lankan art are the frescoes seen at the rock fortress at Sigiriya. Several paintings can also be seen on the walls of Buddhist monasteries and shrines.

Most of the works of sculpture in Sri Lanka is dominated by the images of Buddha and is represented in three main postures- standing, meditating and reclining. The staircases of Buddhist shrines and palaces showcase the outstanding skill of Sri Lankan sculptors.

Classical literature also has elements of Buddhist themes.

Cultural Traditions


Dance, music and painting form an integral part of the cultural life of almost all Sri Lankan. The country's cultural traditions are rich in pageantry, the best example being "Kandy Perehera" which is also known internationally. It is a religious festive procession held in Kandy in honor of the Tooth relic of Buddha.

The dance forms of Sri Lanka constitute those that have come down from ancient times with perceptible influences of South India and North India. The musical traditions of Sri Lanka range from folk music to religious chants with distinct Christian influences.


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