Some Significant Celebrations in Sri Lanka

Sinhala and Tamil New Year Celebrations in Sri Lanka
Featured Image: Blue Lanka Tours

Uncovering the culture of a destination can be a traveler’s most fulfilling experience. Attending a cultural event during your holiday in Sri Lanka will let you dip yourself into the culture of a country and keep going until you are immersed with a blend of experiences to help you imagine what it means to be a local.

Thai Pongal

January is a month full of cheerfulness. It a month which also holds several cultural events. One of the events, Thai Pongal, is a Hindu festival. The day, which either falls on the 14th or 15th of January includes many traditional preparations such as varieties of sweet meats and spiced rice called “Pongal”. Following religious ceremonies at a Hindu temple, the Hindu people carry out the traditional rituals at their homes.

Independence Day

Independence Day Celebrations in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Independence Day is celebrated on 4th of February to mark its political independence from British rule on that day in 1948. The day is a national holiday in Sri Lanka. It is celebrated all over the country through flag-hoisting ceremony, dances, parades and performances. Usually, the main celebration takes place in Colombo. These celebrations are always grand and often include processions happening around the Independence Square. If you are staying at The Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo, you will be rewarded with great views of the festivities.

The Navam Perehera

It is held on the full moon Poya day in February. The celebrations are held at one of Colombo’s most prestigious temples, the Gangaramaya Temple, that is located close to the Beira Lake. The parade is astonishingly beautiful with over a hundred decorated elephants, large numbers of dancers. The celebrations last two days .

Maha Shiva Rathree

Another religious and cultural event is Maha Shivarathri Day, which occurs either in late February or early on in March, it commemorates the union of Lord Shiva with the Goddess Parvathi. Ceremonial prayers and rituals are carried out. Unlike most Hindu festivals which are celebrated during the day, the Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night

New Year

Though the world considers the New Year to be on the first of January, the Sinhala and Tamil folk believe it to be connected to astrology, thereby when the Sun makes passage from Pisces to Aries; it signifies the onset of the New Year. The Sinhala and Tamil New Year involves many traditions and customs, which are carried out in a series of events. Clad in new clothes, the lighting of the lamp and milk pot are carried with auspicious times and later involves indulging in delicious sweet meats. Another tradition is the exchange of sweet meats between neighbours, offering unity.


Vesak Celebrations Sri Lanka
Source: Explore Sri Lanka

May is a holy day for Buddhists as the Vesak full moon day is a celebration of Buddhism as it commemorates the day on which Lord Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and passed on. The entire country lights up their houses and streets with bright lanterns and magnificently-lit decorations. The country is ablaze with the various lantern festivals whilst temples become packed with the followers assembling to pray on this religious day.

The Esala Perahera

Esala Perahera Sri Lanka
Source: In Kandy

One of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, featuring dancers, jugglers, musicians, fire-breathers, and lavishly decorated elephants. This is held in Esala (July or August) which is the month that is believed to honour the first teaching given by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. The Kandy Esala Perahera lasts for ten days. There are many hotels in Kandy which offer special packages during this period.


Deepavali Celebrations in Sri Lanka
Source: Easy Day

Another Hindu celebration, Deepavali (also known as the Festival of Lights) comes alive in late October or early November to celebrate the Goddess of Wealth. Its celebration includes millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities where it is observed.