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Unravelling the culture in Lanka

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Many countries now live in a multicultural atmosphere, and the world is rapidly becoming a global village. Not only it is important to understand diverse cultures, but it also encourages peaceful cohabitation. It's important to remember that when we learn about different cultures, we’re all individuals. Instead of generalizing, respect one another as individuals. This will go a long way towards improving the environment in which we can all thrive in.

Everything that characterizes a particular group of people is referred to as culture. A family, a religious group, or people from a different town, neighborhood, country, or city can form the group. People with comparable ethnic backgrounds, life dynamics, or work cultures can also be found. Language, art, food, history, family values, geography, and beliefs are all examples of how culture manifests itself. A single person can have multiple cultures, including family, religious, age group, and professional cultures. When all of these cultures are blended, each individual develops their own distinct culture. People can learn about different cultures in a variety of ways.

Spending time with people from different cultures allows you to learn about their struggles and community customs. You also get the opportunity to reconsider any preconceptions you may have about your habits and daily life. Such knowledge helps you grow as a person while also allowing you to learn more about your culture. There are a variety of ways to learn about other ethnic groups. You can, for instance, undertake research or question your friends about their cultural standards on various things. Remember that practical approaches such as traveling and camping can help you better comprehend various cultures. As a result, you gain cultural awareness and a firsthand understanding of what it's like to belong to another culture.

There are a few of the most successful methods for learning about different cultures. Knowing a native dialect allows you to effectively interact and engage with individuals from various cultures. Cultural competency is another name for this capacity. Learning new words and phrases is an easy way to strengthen your bonds with others. When speaking your native language with people from diverse cultural backgrounds, you get strong cross-cultural communication skills through learning a new language. As a Sri Lankan citizen, I grew up in a multi-cultural environment. We are taught to speak Sinhala, Tamil, and English as children, and most of us are orally fluent in at least two of these languages by sixth grade.

Sinhala is the mother tongue of Sri Lanka. Tamil is more commonly spoken in the northern region but is used in it's many dialects around the island. English is the main language in schools in Colombo but in the rest of Sri Lanka, Sinhala is. So, children have exposure to all three languages on a daily basis. Also, Sri Lanka has a more traditional culture that is influenced by the religions prevailing in the country such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam therefore, the Sri Lankan way of life is very simple and filled with humility and happiness.

On the other hand, Sri Lankan societies have values that are shared by their members. The values emphasize what those members consider important. For example, raising the national flag during a nationally significant occasion or a holiday is a norm, and it also shows the value of patriotism. In Islam, praying five times a day shows how the Muslim people respect their religion each and every day in a multi-cultural environment. So, this religious value of Muslims is understood by other religions too. This is cultural understanding. Instead of reading books written by individuals you relate with, make it a habit to read books written by people from various cultures. This allows you to acquire a variety of cultural facts.

Interacting with people from different cultures is one of the ideal ways of learning and understanding other people’s culture. Joining an international organization or camp is one method to accomplish this. Pioneers Youth itself is an example of having the benefit of introducing you to people from various countries and races. You not only learn about another culture, but you also pass on your own. Interacting with people one on one allows you to hear their stories firsthand. You can learn from each other this way.

The cultural understanding of a community gives it a unique identity of its own. It’s important to remember that the people are the driving force of this uniqueness. Culture is shared among the people in the community and it’s passed down from one generation to the other. It links people of a region or society together. The customs and traditions the society follows, the clothing they wear, the festivals they celebrate, the food they eat, and importantly, the cultural values they follow binds them together. The importance of food in human life cannot be overstated.

Furthermore, the food we eat is linked to our society. You may learn about and comprehend a culture by tasting its food. It would be impossible to define culture without evaluating it's food. Food is a basic necessity that everyone has, regardless of where they live or where they come from. Many of our social cultures are likely to have sprung from food. People used to walk through the area to hunt and gather food in past. Food remains one of the unifying themes for people all across the world, despite modern day changes in eating habits.

As you might already know, Sri Lanka is a home to a number of ethnicities. Accordingly, Buddhists, Christians, Tamils, Burghers and Muslims, all live in harmony on this beautiful island. Yet, they celebrate a number of fabulous festivals in a way that exhibits their unique cultural values. Moreover, the exclusivity of these festivals gets simply, magnified, owing to the set of wonderful food items, that each of these ethnic groups brings to the table. Simply, almost all the dishes that they prepare, offer a blend of flavors, brought out with their authentic culinary style which shares especially during festival times, when its New Year, the avurudu food table which is rich with a bunch of sweetmeats mostly called as Sinhalese cultural food. On the other hand, Ramadan festival has a significant bond with food. Biriyani and watalppan, not only Muslims long to enjoy these stupendous dishes, but also non-Muslims in Sri Lanka. Simply it is that fantastic and it leaves one wanting for more.

Language has linked many different ethnicities within the country and is important in Sri Lanka. You might personally have a lot of friends from different ethnicities, speaking different languages. You understand their culture and they understand your culture. That’s how we build cultural understanding among us. Although you speak Sinhala and Tamil to a certain level of fluency, reading is an entirely different issue. Most Sri Lankans are not given much exposure to other languages though they hear it and see it every day. On the other hand, participating in local celebrations and events with an open mind and heart is also a way to understand a culture.

Cultural understanding helps us recognize and respect “ways of being” that are not necessarily our own. So that as we interact with others we can build bridges of trust, respect and understanding across cultures. And more importantly, this understanding of cultures makes our country a more interesting place to live in. Learning about other cultures helps us understand different perspectives within the world in which we live. In today’s techno- savvy times, the world is rapidly becoming smaller. As people travel far and wide, there are high chances that you will encounter people with varying cultures. You’ll need to master the art of tolerating each other. You’ll also want people to handle you, and the best way of achieving this is by understanding. This plays a significant role in living in an all-around community and making you a versatile human being. Interacting with people from different cultures helps you view life from a different perspective. When you learn about other cultures, you establish new ways of thinking and approaching and solving problems and creates opportunity to meet new people too. Also, you get to understand the world better.

Culture is the basic roof of any community which gives them the ways of life. The culture provides solution to the critical problem that is faced to community and teach us to think for the whole nation not individually, it provides the concept of family. Without culture the society is impossible. An author says about the importance of culture that “culture is the set of transmitted and learned behavior patterns, beliefs, institutions and all other products of human work and thought that characterize the functioning of particular population, profession, organization or community”, so the only representative of the particular community of population is the culture.

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