Sri Lankans usually welcome you with the word ‘Ayubowan’, Worshipping parents and other respected persons.

Worshipping parents and other respected persons

In Sri Lanka it is common for younger people to pay respect to their parents, grandparents, teachers, elderly people, superiors and other respectful people. This is a value highly appreciated by all Sri Lankans. Children worship their parents by kneeling in front of them. They may sometimes also do this for foreigners. Although this is uncommon in many other cultures, it will be highly appreciated when you accept their worshipping. Please don’t reject this.

No ‘no’

“Do you understand my explanation?” Whenever you ask such or a similar direct question and the person really doesn’t have the answer, it is common in many Asian countries that you will get no response at all or, despite the negative outcome, it will be responded with a timid “yes”. Communication in Asia is different from the western style. Either try to avoid direct questioning or generalize your questions in order to smoothen your conversation with Sri Lankans. Especially in asking the way you might be sent into the wrong direction, because it is better to send you somewhere (even if it’s the wrong way) than telling you that you don’t know.

What to talk about with Sri Lankans and what not


“How much do you earn?” and “How much money do you have?” are questions Sri Lankans like to know from you. Don’t be embarrassed when they ask you this, but politely tell them that it is not the custom in your country to talk about these issues, because they are considered to be private. There are taboos also about certain subjects, such as asking a Sri Lankan girl if she has a boyfriend. You also don’t talk about sexual issues and Sri Lankan politics if it is negative about the country. Many people are proud of their former president, because he ended the 30 years’ civil war in 2009, while there are people who are hurt when the international community tries to blame the former president for having violated human rights. It’s a delicate subject, so better to avoid Sri Lankan politics. You will also get the question if you are married, and if not why? Sri Lankans consider it quite unusual if you are not married, because who is going to take care of you when you are old. In Sri Lanka there are no social securities like in many developed countries. In rural areas the language could be a serious barrier, because many people don’t speak English. With well-educated people you can have quite interesting discussions about many issues