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Customs & Etiquette (Sri Lanka)

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious country. Roughly 70% of the population is Buddhist, 12 % Hindus, 10% Muslims and 8% Christians. With this in mind, the laws, regulations and behaviour are affected by this colourful mix and we ask you to respect them by following some simple rules:

• The traditional greeting used to greet someone is "Ayubowan." This term translates to "long life" and is accompanied by joining both hands together in a prayer-like manner. It is a respectful and customary way to greet others in Sri Lanka and can be used at any time of the day.
• Remove your shoes when entering any religious sites and houses.
• Public displays of affection is frowned upon.
• Move around chortens, other shrines, alters and all religious objects or buildings in a clockwise direction.
• Do not wear any leather articles (shoes, belts, camera straps) at any Jain temples.
• Try not to point the soles of your feet towards people or towards religious objects.
• Cameras are not allowed in some sightseeing spots, particularly temples and pagodas.
 • When it comes to eating, shaking hands, or passing something to someone, it is customary to use your right hand.
• Do not raise your voice as this can be very offensive.
 • Do not touch a monk, or their clothes.
• Full moon (Poya) days are celebrated once a month. Authorities ban the sale and purchase of alcohol and fresh meat on these days.