Buddhism has been the biggest influence in moulding the variegated cultural heritage of Sri Lanka. In addition, much of the culture of South India has also made inroads into the social fabric of the island. The Europeans, particularly the Dutch and the British who colonised the island , added their own cultural hues, thus, creating a motley blend which is embellished by the architecture, sculpture, paintings, dances, theatre, cuisines etc. The North and East of the island has a very different feel, with a prevalent Tamil influence.
The classical architecture, sculpture and paintings of the island bear the Buddhist trademark. Buddhist Stupas are scattered all over the countryside, and there are several exquisite Buddhist sculptures, especially at Aukana and Buduruvagala.
Rice and curry are the main cuisines at meal times which is supplemented by side delicacies which include dishes of vegetables, meat and they like their food served hot and spicy! Sri Lankans also feast upon Indian dishes such as vegetarian thali and biriyani. A unique Sri Lankan snack is hoppers which is served with an egg and is found sold in street side food stalls in the early evenings. Delicious sea food is available in the coastal areas. In addition, a slew of tropical fruits are there in the Sri Lankan menu. Tea is the favourite drink in the island, a crop which ws brought to the island by the British when a blight killed the coffee crops.
The summer Esala Perehara, the world famous pageant of elephants and light takes place every year in August for 10 days in the lad up to the full moon. The Tooth Relic of the Buddha (widely believed to be a fragment of an actual tooth of the Lord Buddha) is carried in a sacred casket around the city during this ritual. Only a specially trained tusker is entrusted with the task of carrying the Tooth Relic. It is held in the cultural city of Kandy and celebrations occur for this event for two weeks.