Before I traveled to Sri Lanka, I didn’t know anything about this beautiful island. In fact, I had never even thought of visiting it. I ended up living and working in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka for 7 months.
The people of Sri Lanka welcomed me with open arms and warm smiles. They really showed me huge hospitality, and made me feel at home right away. They impressed me with their kindness, and wasn’t slow to involve me in their cultural activities.
Before I continue, I would just point out how much Sri Lankans love their tea-time. Any time of the day is a good time for hot tea, preferably cooked with milk and tons of sugar (as they like it very sweet). I lost the count of how many cups of tea I had served from my time on this island. You will not walk thirsty for long here.
For cultural activities they took me to wedding parties, where they dance to crazy Sri Lankan pop music. The women wear beautiful, colorful saris, and great food is served in a joyful atmosphere. It’s really an experience I’m happy I could take a part of. They also showed me the local markets where I got introduced to fruit and vegetables I didn’t even knew they existed! Exciting smells of curry powder, garlic and cinnamon filled the air, which is the most used spice in Sri Lanka. I could really spend hours there. They even brought me to cricket games, which sometimes felt like was never ending. Even though it's hot and takes hours to complete, It’s still a lot of fun to cheer and support when Sri Lankan’s play their national sport.
One experience that I would like to share with you is a traditional ceremony in one of the many temples around Sri Lanka. It’s truly a magical place once you enter the holy grounds. This ceremony was about receiving a new buddha statue, a great offering dedicated to the temple. They were making prayers for 24 hours, and many locals from the area came to take part of it. It’s a tradition to wear white clothing when entering the temples, which is also something they do for the full moon ceremony each month. They would dress me up in the same clothes, and in respect for their culture it is important that women cover their legs and shoulders before visiting the temple.
The stairs up to the temple and the path to the new Buddha statue were decorated with fairy lights. Candles were burning everywhere and every single bowl was filled with the most beautiful frangipani flowers, which I like to call temple flowers. I could feel how proud and thankful the Sri Lankan’s were when I joined this traditional ceremony with them. It was truly special and memorable.
After finishing their sacrifices with flowers, rice grains and singing prayers, we ate rice & curry together. A large selection of different curries was provided all night for all visitors. There was no cutlery, because traditionally rice & curry is eaten with the hands. I was no exception, and had to eat with my fingers as well. It’s hard at the beginning, and I was making a great mess. But after a while I got more comfortable, and could enjoy my curry without too much struggle. To be honest, this was one of the best Rice & Curry’s I had in Sri Lanka, and trust me I’ve had many.
The ceremony went on the whole night until the early morning and till the sun was rising. I’m so thankful I was able to be a part of this, and got to meet all these interesting, incredible people. Sure, there will be cultural habits that might be hard for westerners like myself, or other travelers to understand, but experiencing the culture up close is what makes traveling even more fascinating. For me at least.
I definitely made great memories during my time here, and to experience the local side of it made me fall in love with the island even more. If you are open-minded, I invite you to explore the sideroads, the little streets, local markets... anything that are not written down in any travel guides. You will definitely have a richer experience, and see the country with different eyes. Maybe even understand the Sri Lankan culture a little bit more!
From its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, to the unbelievable amount of majestic palm trees it’s not hard to see why we chooseto host our first retreat here. The cultural treasures and the hospitality and kindness from the warm people of Sri Lanka just add icing to the cake.
Join us for an exciting week to experience a different way of traveling, combined with yoga and mindfulness with other incredible women. We can’t wait to share memories like these with you!