|Religions in Sri Lanka|
According to popular beliefs Sri Lanka was converted to Buddhism in the 3rd century B.C. From this time on the religion has been regarded as the largest religion of the country, with an influential monasticism. Currently, approximately 69% of the population, especially the Sinhalese, are Buddhists. Buddhism is not just a faith or doctrine, but also plays a major role in the social and political life. The city of Anuradhapura is a holy city for Buddhists. This city holds one of the most revered relics of Sri Lanka, the Sri Maha Bodhi. The tree is an offspring of the sacred Bo Tree in the Indian town of Bodh Gaya, under which Buddha received enlightenment. Every day pilgrims from around the whole world come to Anuradhapura to behold the sacred tree. The tree, with his 22 centuries of age, is one of the oldest trees in the world.
Photo: Boeddha-statue near Matara
The Tamils introduced Hindu from India to Sri Lanka. Approximately 15.5% of the total population is currently Hindu. The Hindus mainly live in the eastern and northern part of the island, but also in the south and in the capital of Colombo. Noteworthy is that Hinduism is somewhat mixed with Buddhism. Sri Lanka has about 12,000 monks, who live in about 3000 monasteries and hermit living accommodations. There is also an order of nuns, approximately 2,000 women, but they do not play a significant role in Hinduism.
Islam and Christianity
Approximately 7.5% of the Sri Lankan population are Christians, most of whom belong to the Roman Catholic Church in Sri Lanka . This church is administratively organized into one arch-diocese and six dioceses. The coastal area around Negombo, in northwestern Sri Lanka, is known for the many Catholic churches from the Portuguese era. There approximately 80% of the population are Catholics.
Protestant denominations include Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians. The capital of Colombo has the monumental Wolvendael Church, the largest and most impressive Dutch Reformed Church of Sri Lanka. The church was built from 1749 on the foundations of a Portuguese place of worship. Most Burghers are Christians.
About 7.5% of the population of Sri Lanka are Muslims. They mainly live in the eastern and southeastern part of Sri Lanka and include descendants of Arab, Afghan and Indian traders. Hambantota, the largest city on the south coast, has the largest population of Malay Muslims in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Muslims are generally rigidly fixed to the traditional standards.