Sri Lanka Culture

Sri Lanka Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Sri Lanka

According to COMPUTERANNALS.COM, Sri Lanka is a country located in Asia. Newspaper distribution in Sri Lanka is small (29 newspaper excl. Per 1,000 residents, 2000). Four major newspaper groups, partly built on the British model, dominate the newspaper publishing (10 of Sri Lanka’s 12 daily newspapers). Newspapers are published in Sinhalese, Tamil and English. English-speaking Daily News, with an edition of about 65,000 copies, is considered to be the most important. Largest edition has Dinamina, published in Sinhalese (about 140,000 copies). The state controls the media, but journalists are also threatened by armed separatists. Pre-censorship occurs, and reporting from war zones is entirely controlled by the military.

Radio and TV are essentially state-owned. Radio is operated by Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC, founded in 1967) in Sinhalese, Tamil and English and television by Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC, founded in 1982). Sri Lanka also has a religious radio station (Trans World Radio) and private television in Colombo (Independent Television Network). There are 208 radio and 111 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to ANIMALERTS, the Sri Lankan culture has been characterized by proximity to the Indian continent. The most prominent architectural works are the Buddhist stupas, large domed structures that often house relics.

Most of the stupids are now in ruins. The most famous, Thuparama dagaba and Ruwanweli dagaba in Anuradhapura, were built in the centuries before our era. The city also has the Sri Mahabodhi tree, one of the oldest trees in the world, and a shot from the tree under which the Buddha must have been revealed. Holy tooth temple in the city of Kandy is another Buddhist pilgrimage destination.

Sri Lanka’s most famous artwork is the rock paintings by Sigiriya, made in the 500s. They show celestial nymphs spreading flowers.

The Sinhalese literature, which is strongly influenced by Buddhism, goes back to the beginning of our era. It was initially written in the literary language elu, but works in Sinhalese have been preserved since the 9th century. Well-known early works are the historical chronicles of Sri Lanka, Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa, which were originally written in the language pali (the sacred language of Theravada Buddhism).

During the 1400s to the 1600s, Sinhalese poetry was prominent. The best known poet is the 17th century poet Alagiyavanna Mukaveti. During the 20th century, modern domestic literature emerged, with representatives such as Martin Wickramasinghe, Ann Ranasinghe and Romesh Gunesekera. In modern Sinhalese literature, it is above all the novels that have luminosity. In Tamil, novels and poetry are mainly written.

Traditional mask dances and dance dramas are accompanied by drums. In the Temple of the Holy Ghost, the advanced ves dance has evolved from Indian dance dramas written in Sanskrit. Ves are danced by special temple dancers. In essence, Sanskrit drama is mixed with traditional prohibitionist dances. Particularly famous are the devil dancers who perform complicated dances wearing masks.

Ediriweera Saratchandra’s Maname (King’s name) from 1956 is considered the first drama in Sinhalese.

Films are mainly produced in Sinhalese. Tamil-language films are imported from India.



Military becomes security manager

December 9

For the first time, Sri Lanka receives a military as the head of the security service (SIS). Brigadier General Suresh Sallay, who was previously head of the country’s military intelligence service, replaces Nilantha Jayawardena, who was fired after it became clear that SIS made serious mistakes in connection with the terrorist attacks on three luxury hotels and three churches in the country, assaults that claimed 259 people’s lives (see April 2019). SIS missed important intelligence from Indian security service that a terrorist attack was planned in Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa lowers taxes

December 2

President Rajapaksa’s new government cuts several taxes in an attempt to boost the country’s crisis economy. For example, the VAT on certain goods is lowered to stimulate private consumption, and corporate taxes are lowered to facilitate the industry.


New government is dominated by Mahinda Rajapaksa

November 22

The new government takes office. Prime Minister Rajapaksa is also Minister of Defense and Minister of Finance. Foreign Minister becomes Dinesh Gunawardene and Janaka Bandara Tennakoon gets the post of Minister of the Interior with responsibility for the police force.

Corruption charges against the president are closed

November 21st

The corruption charge against President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has been discontinued as a result of the country’s head of state enjoying prosecutorial immunity according to the constitution. However, when Gotabhaya Rajapaksa resigns, the prosecution can be resumed. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was indicted in September 2018 for embezzling $ 185,000 from a state fund. The money would be used to build a memorial monument to his parents.

Mahinda Rajapaksa new Prime Minister

20th of November

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe announces the resignation of his and the UNP-dominated government. President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa appoints his brother, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as new prime minister for a transitional government until the parliamentary elections in April 2020.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa becomes president

November 16

The controversial former Defense Minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa from SLPF wins the presidential election with 52, 25 percent of the vote against 42 percent for UNP candidate Sajith Premadasa. The electorate is deeply divided between the Sinhalese who mainly support Rajapaksa, and Tamils, Muslims and Hindus who vote to a large extent on Premadasa. In the election movement, Rajapaksa has focused entirely on security issues, while Premadasa, in addition to the fight against terrorism, has also focused on social issues. The turnout is 84 percent. Rajapaksa has been charged with both war crimes and misappropriation of state funds.

Anger when a doomed killer is pardoned

November 9

President Sirisena pardons a doomed man from a wealthy family. The man was sentenced in 2005 for the murder of a Swedish teenager. Strong reactions come from the pardon from the victim’s family, from human rights groups and from other prisoners who also demand to be pardoned. When a minor prison riot breaks out in a prison, five days later Sirisena grants 267 interns over 65 years. However, none of them are convicted of rape or murder.


Sirisena’s plans for hangings are stopped

October 29th

In practice, the Supreme Court halted President Sirisena’s plans to abolish the moratorium on the execution of the death penalty and leave four drug convicts in custody. The most recent execution in Sri Lanka was in 1976. The Court halted Sirissa’s plans by postponing the review of the December proposal when Sirisena left office.

The army chief openly supports Rajapaksa

October 16

The country’s new army chief publicly announces his support for Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in the November presidential election. The electoral authority demands an explanation and stresses that it is punishable by imprisonment for an army commander to be biased in a political election.

No war crime report on Rajapaksa becomes president

15 October

On the same day that the trial begins against Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is charged with misusing state funds during his term as defense minister, he promises to abdicate the UNP government’s promise to the UN Human Rights Council to investigate allegations of war crimes committed during the end of the war in 2009. His brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was then president and he himself was defense minister. Gotabaya Rajapaksa says that the Lankes, even the Tamils, today want to look ahead and are more interested in work, education and infrastructure than in the past.

The Siris do not stand for re-election

October 6

When the deadline for submitting his candidacy for the November presidential election expires, a record number of 35 people have registered. Among them are two Buddhist monks and a single woman. President Sirisena, whose government has been severely affected by internal power struggles and criticized for how it handled the terrorist act on Easter Day (see April 2019), does not stand for re-election. Main opponents are expected to become Gotabaya Rajapaksa from SLPP and Sajith Premadasa from UNP.


Lankeser must not become UN soldiers

September 26th

The UN announces that Sri Lankan soldiers are no longer welcome to join the World Organization peacekeeping forces. The reason is that the Sri Lankan government has appointed war crime suspect General Shavendra Silva as new army chief (see August 2019).

Presidential elections in November

September 18

The electoral authority announces presidential elections until November 16. Gotabaya Rajapaksa from SLPP has already announced her candidacy (see August 2019). Within the UNP, three politicians first announce that they want to run for office: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Deputy Party Speaker Sajith Premadasa and Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. It will be Premadasa who goes out of battle. He is the son of Ranasinghe Premadasa, who was president when he was assassinated by the Tamil guerrilla LTTE in 1993.


The state of emergency is canceled

August 23rd

Sri Lanka abolishes the state of emergency that has prevailed in the country since the terrorist attacks against three hotels and three churches on Easter Day demanded 258 lives (see April 2019). The state of emergency gave the police and security forces far-reaching powers to arrest and arrest suspected perpetrators for a long time.

War crimes suspect general becomes new army chief

August 19th

War Criminal Major General Shavendra Silva is appointed new Army Chief by President Sirisena. The nomination draws criticism from, among others, Michelle Bachelet, head of the UN Human Rights Council. Silva is suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity when he led government forces in the end of the Civil War in the spring of 2009.

Contested ex-minister wants to become the next president

August 11th

Gotabhaya Rajapakse, former Minister of Defense in Brother Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government, announces his candidacy in the next presidential election. He is running for SLPP, a breakout party the brother recently formed from SLFP. SLFP is formally led by President Sirisena. The focus of Rajapakse’s election campaign will be the fight against extremist terrorism. The two Rajapaksa brothers have harshly criticized the incumbent government for failures in the crisis work following the terrorist attack on Easter Day that claimed 258 people’s lives. Rajapakse was Minister of Defense during the final battles of the civil war in 2009 and thus ultimately responsible for the human rights crimes that the military is accused of committing. He is also charged with embezzlement of state funds. Sitting President Sirisena has also announced that he is running for re-election. The presidential election is scheduled for December 9, 2019.


Muslim ministers are back in office

July 30

The Muslim government members who left their missions in the wake of the terrorist attack on Easter Day (see June 2019) return.

Planned hangings are investigated

July 5

The Supreme Court has until now halted President Sirisena’s plans to resume executions of sentenced prisoners. The reason is that the court wants to find out if hangings violate the constitution. In Sri Lanka, death sentences are sometimes issued for murder, rape and drug offenses, but since 1976, all death sentences have been converted to life imprisonment. Sirisena said in February 2019 that a number of executions would be carried out within two months, which has not yet happened. The President wants 13 prisoners sentenced to death for drug offenses to be hanged. The country has not been fined since 2014 when the last retired.


Sirisena gives orders for executions

June 26

President Sirisena orders four convicted prisoners to be executed by hanging. The four are convicted of serious drug offenses. Sirisena’s decision marks the end of a 43-year moratorium on the execution of the death penalty. The last execution was carried out in 1976. Reintroducing executions for drug offenses is Sirisena’s response to growing problems with drug trafficking and drug abuse in the country.

Sirisena conflicts with investigators

June 8

President Sirisena announces that he will not cooperate with the investigative group appointed by Parliament to examine the deficiencies in communication between the country’s various authorities in connection with the terrorist attack on Easter Day (see April 2019). The same day Sirisena dismisses the head of the national intelligence service, Sisira Mendis, after he testified to investigators that the attack could have been avoided and that Sirisena had not held regular security meetings in the country. The Sirisena must have banned military, police and security personnel from testifying before the Investigation Committee.

Muslim ministers resign

June 3

All nine Muslim ministers and two Muslim provincial governors resign in protest against the government’s failure to protect the country’s Muslim minority. People’s mobs have in recent weeks attacked Muslim-owned homes and business establishments in what appears to be a revenge for the terrorist act on April 21, when 258 people were killed by militant Islamists (see April 2019).


Anti-Muslim riots

May 12

Anti-Muslim riots cause a Muslim man to be killed by a mob in the North West province north of Colombo. The mob storms into the man’s carpet shop and kills him. Anti-Muslim violence has flared up in several parts of the country after the terrorist attack on Easter Day. Dozens of shops, restaurants and homes belonging to Muslims and several mosques have been set on fire by angry crowds. Police are trying to stop the attackers with tear gas and water cannons.

“All those responsible for terrorist attacks arrested or killed”

May 7

The police report that all perpetrators responsible for the terrorist act on April 21, when 258 were killed, were arrested or killed by police or military. This applies to both those who planned and organized the attacks and the people who carried out the blasts. According to police, 73 suspected offenders are in custody, including nine women.


About 40 foreign casualties identified

April 30th

The Lankan authorities have identified 42 foreign nationals among the 253 victims of the Easter weekend terrorist attack. Of the 42, eleven come from India, six from the UK, four from China and three from Denmark. Saudi Arabia, Spain and Turkey lost two citizens each, while Bangladesh, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and the US each lost one citizen. Six casualties included another citizenship. An additional twelve foreign nationals are reported missing and may be found among yet unidentified bodies in the police’s morgue in Colombo, according to authorities.

The death figure changes to 258

April 27

The death toll for the terrorist act on Easter Day is written down to 258, which is a decrease of 101 dead compared to the previous task. It informs the Ministry of Health, which explains the write-down that a number of bodies have been counted twice. The damage to the body can be so great after an explosion that identification is very difficult.

Women and children are killed in police custody

26th of April

Nine adults and six children are killed when police and military strike at a place in Kalmunai town in the east where participants in the terrorist attack are believed to be hiding. Three women and six children are killed when three suicide bombers blow themselves up in the air before an arrest is to take place. Another three men must have been shot dead at the scene. No police or soldiers lose their lives.

The chief of police resigns

26th of April

The country’s top police chief Pujith Jayasundara resigns as a result of the mistakes made by the state government before the terrorist attack was committed during Easter. About 100 people are arrested and arrested for involvement in the act.

“The brain behind the terrorist act is dead”

26th of April

Zahran Hashim, designated as the brain behind the terrorist act on Easter Day and leader of the Islamist group NTJ, led the practical implementation of the blast attack at the luxury hotel Shangri-La in Colombo and was himself killed in the act. It announces President Sirisena, citing information from the country’s military intelligence service. Hashim has been seen on a video released by the Islamic State (IS) in which he swears an oath of allegiance to the extremist group.

Senior manager resigns

April 25

The highest ranking official at the Ministry of Defense, Hemasiri Fernando, resigns as a result of the communications failures within the government and ministries that were discovered after the terrorist attack on Easter Day and which are feared to have contributed to the attacks being given such large proportions.

The government admits big mistakes

April 24

The government acknowledges that “big mistakes” were made when the authorities did not act on intelligence that reached them that a major terrorist act was planned in the country. On April 11, the national police chief issued a warning that suicide attacks against “important churches” could be carried out by the violent anti-Islamist group NTJ. The information must have come from a “foreign intelligence service”. According to US CNN, these are Indian intelligence, which has not reached any government member. Authorities have identified eight of likely nine suicide bombers, including two brothers and a married couple. The perpetrators are highly educated people from the upper middle class. NTJ leader Zahran Hashim is still on the loose.

Some 60 arrested for the terrorist act

April 24

The death toll for the six concerted suicides has risen to 359, police say. According to the UN, at least 45 of the dead are children, both Sri Lankan and foreign. In their search for the perpetrators, the police seize another 20 people during the night. Thus, around 60 suspected perpetrators are detained. At the same time, the Islamic State (IS) goes out and takes on the deed. Assessors have shared opinions on the truthfulness of the extremist movement’s statement when no sustainable evidence is presented. However, most people agree that the domestic terrorists must have had the help of internationally organized jihadists. Police say an attempted suicide attack against a fourth hotel in Colombo failed during Easter Sunday. The man blew himself up and three chasing police officers in the air after leaving the hotel.

The worst terrorist act since the war

April 21

At least 320 people are killed and about 500 injured when six concerted suicide attacks are carried out in the country. The blasts take place in the morning in three churches (one in Colombo, one in Batticaloa on the east coast and one in Negombo north of Colombo on the west coast) as well as in three luxury hotels in Colombo where many foreign tourists live. Among the dead are some 40 foreign tourists, including many Westerners. Two more explosions occur when explosive charges detonate during police chase for perpetrators. According to the government, a small Sri Lankan, hitherto relatively unknown Islamist group, called the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama’ath), is behind the terrorist act. The country’s government says the NTJ did not perform the act on its own, but that the group has been assisted by global jihadistswith education, financing and planning. About 40 people are arrested on suspicion of involvement in the act. The terrorist act is the worst targeted at the country’s small Christian minority and the largest Islamist act in Sri Lanka. According to the defense minister, the act was a revenge for a right-wing extremist’s attacks on Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March of that year. The Colombo government is being criticized for not acting on a warning from the police that the NTJ was preparing for an attack. The warning should not have reached Prime Minister Wickremesinghe or any of the top ministers. The offices of the President and the Prime Minister receive criticism for not being able to cooperate during the first hours after the act occurred.


Extended deadline for war crime investigation

21 March

The UN Human Rights Council gives Sri Lanka another two years (until March 2021) to investigate the suspicions of war crimes during the civil war that ended in May 2009. The Council adopts a resolution to postpone the establishment of an international investigation pending the outcome of Sri Lanka’s own investigation.

Permanent budget is adopted

the 12th of March

After a four-month delay, Parliament adopts a permanent state budget for 2019. Finance Minister Samarawira sharply raises taxes on alcohol, tobacco and gambling in an attempt to raise more money for the meager treasury.

Sri Lanka borrows more

March 8th

As a result of the political power struggle over, the IMF resumes payments of the rescue package granted by the loan agency to Sri Lanka in 2016. This will allow the central bank to borrow an additional $ 2.4 billion in the international financial market.


Executions of the condemned are resumed

6th of February

President Sirisena tells Parliament that he will begin to execute death sentences for drug offenses. He says one or more executions should take place within two months. Sri Lanka faces death sentence for murder, rape and drug crime but no executions have been carried out since 1977. Sirisena says the decision is inspired by a visit to the Philippines where President Duterte carried out a criticized campaign for tough smugglers (see Philippines, Political system).

Sri Lanka Culture

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