Sri Lankan Culture

Greetings

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  • Customary greetings vary between the different ethnic groups.
  • The traditional and common greeting is to press the palms of one’s hands together under the chin and in front of the chest while slightly bowing the head.
  • The traditional greeting is often accompanied with the phrase ‘vannakkam’ (in Tamil) or ‘ayubowan’ (in Sinhalese), which means "may you be blessed with a long life". An alternative phrase in Hindi is ‘namaste’, which literally translates as “I bow to you.”
  • In more informal settings, it is common for people to greet with the phrase ‘kohomada’, which means “how do you do?”.
  • Most Sri Lankans are familiar with the handshake. However, consider that some Sri Lankans are not accustomed to touching people of the opposite gender. A man should wait for the woman to extend her hand first before attempting to shake it. Women may choose to bow with their hands folded instead.
  • Titles are quite important to Sri Lankans and proper greeting practices call for acquaintances to be addressed by their title, such as ‘Mr’, ‘Ms’ or ‘Doctor’.
  • The eldest person present is expected to be greeted first. When doing so, some Sri Lankans may reach down and touch the ground or the elder’s feet as a sign of respect. This is known as ‘worshipping elders’. Buddhist Sri Lankans may also do this greeting when encountering a monk.
  • Greetings that involve hugging and kissing should be avoided unless you are well acquainted with the person.
Sri Lanka
  • Population
    22.235 million
    [July 2016 est.]
  • Languages
    Sinhala (official) (74%)
    Tamil (official) (18%)
    Other (8%)
    Note: English, spoken competently by about 10% of the population, is commonly used in government and is referred to as the link language in the constitution.
    [2012 census]
  • Religions
    Buddhism (70.2%)
    Hinduism (12.6%)
    Islam (9.7%)
    Catholic Christianity (6.1%)
    Other (1.8%)
    [2012 census]
  • Ethnicities
    Sinhalese (74.9%)
    Sri Lankan Tamil (11.2%)
    Sri Lankan Moors (9.2%)
    Indian Tamil (4.2%)
    Other (0.5%)
    [2012 census]
  • Cultural Dimensions
    Power Distance 80
    Individualism 35
    Masculinity 10
    Uncertainty Avoidance 45
    Long Term Orientation 45
    Indugence -
    What's this?
  • Australians with Sri Lankan Ancestry
    Sri Lankan: 110,917
    Sinhalese: 19,360
    Sri Lanken Tamil: 7,991
    [2016 census]
Sri Lankans in Australia
  • Population
    109,849
    [2016 census]
    This figure refers to the number of Australian residents that were born in Sri Lanka.
  • Average Age
    41
  • Gender
    Male (51.1%)
    Female (48.9%)
  • Religion
    Buddhism (38.1%)
    Catholic Christianity (23.4%)
    Hinduism (17.8%)
    Anglican Christianity (5.7%)
    Other (2.7%)
  • Ancestry
    Sri Lankan (50.9%)
    Sinhalese (18.4%)
    Tamil (9%)
    English (4.3%)
    Other (17.4%)
  • Languages
    Sinhalese (47.4%)
    English (26.7%)
    Tamil (23%)
    Other (1.7%)
  • English Proficiency
    Well (91.9%)
    Not Well (6.1%)
  • Diaspora
    Victoria (50.9%)
    New South Wales (27.4%)
    Queensland (8.9%)
    Western Australia (6.2%)
  • Arrival
    Prior to 2001 (53.5%)
    2001-2006 (17.3.%)
    2007-2011 (25.8%)
Where do we get our statistics?
Country LK Flag