Lesson 12: Sri Lanka

This week in music class we head into the Indian Ocean where we find Sri Lanka, an island nation just off the southeastern tip of India. Sri Lanka is a South Asian island nation that’s famous for its exports of cinnamon, rubber and tea, its unbridled enthusiasm for cricket, and, unfortunately, for a 16 year long civil war between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils.


OVERVIEW: In the 16th century Portuguese colonized the island now known as Sri Lanka (once known as Serendip), ending two thousand years of local rule . . .

MUSIC: After over a thousand years of continuous Buddhist practice in Sri Lanka you won’t be surprised find many Buddhist chants in Sri Lankan traditional music, and of course there are substantial musical strains from India, but the music of Sri Lanka also provides many unexpected surprises . . .

LANGUAGE: The two official languages of Sri Lanka are Sinhala — since the 1956 “Sinhala Only” Act — and, since 1987, Tamil.

WHEN YOU GO THERE: Lonely Planet’s Sri Lanka page describes Sri Lankans of all ethnic origins as proud people . . .

CRICKET: Sri Lankans are crazy about cricket, and why shouldn’t they be . . . ?

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