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Lion Dance 舞狮

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Lion Dance, 舞狮, is a traditional art form that incorporates physical training commonly associated with martial arts and ascetic expressions.

During a lion dance performance, 2 performers co operate to “become” a lion. The Lion’s body consists of a lion head with movable ears, eye lids and mouth and a highly decorated body. The performers wear a t-shirt with the lion dance association’s logo and a special pair of pants designed to look like lion’s feet and in matching color and design with the lion’s body.

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One of the performers takes the front position and assumes the front body of the lion. He controls the lion’s eye lids, ears and the mouth while his legs moves represent the front legs of a lion. The second performer arches forward to form the back of the lion, controls its tail and his legs represents the hind legs of the lion.

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Lion dance performances are often accompanied by drum and gong players so that whenever there is a lion dance performances, the drum and gongs help to “inform” everyone around the area drawing crowds. The lion dance can occur with one or a group of lions and sometimes together with the dragon dance.

At the end of each performance, the Lion may leave a display of orange petals for audience to decipher the lucky numbers from the formation. Pastries such as prosperity cakes 发糕 are also used as props because of its auspicious symbolism.

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Although it is called a lion dance, the lion is definitely not the physical lion in the zoo but a stylized cultural lion with a variety of colors and designs. The lions are generally categorized into northern and southern lions and within each category, there are variations reflecting regional influences in China. One of the most distinguished types of Southern Lion is the Green Lion 青狮 thought to have its origins in the Ming loyalist’s anti Qing movement.

Lion dance performances are usually associated with joyous or auspicious occasions. The following is a list of social and festival occasions that a lion dance performance can be seen.

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Ground breaking ceremony / Opening ceremony

Lion dance performances are also found at ground breaking ceremonies of buildings and institutions. The performances create a joyous mood for an important and significant occasion.

In this function, lion dances witness and usher many important occasions and events of a society.

Festive / religious events

During major religious events, lion dance performances are arranged for ritual purposes and also to create a festive and joyous mood. These events quickly attract people around the area especially tourists and children to enjoy the performance.

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In Chinatowns around the world, the lion dance is always associated with Chinese New Year celebration.

See also, Lion dance, firecrackers during Dragon Boat Festival in Bintan, Indonesia.

Public performances

Lion dance groups are also invited to performance at tourist destinations or night markets. Lion dance performances are very effective in drawing crowds and in creating a festive or joyous mood since performances are often associated with happy events.

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In Singapore, lion dance performances are commissioned by Chinese customers and also by expatriate community. Lion dance association also attracted students from other ethnic groups so that it is common to see Lion Dance performance with Malay and Indian performers.

The next time you have an event consider a lion dance performance to create a joyous mood or to mark the start of an auspicious event. When you commission a lion dance performance, you also contribute toward sustaining a traditional art form in a modern society.

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Chinese New Year (Festivals)


Chinese Spring Festival 2013


The most important Chinese holiday is Chinese New Year, which is known in China as Spring Festival. The festival ushers in the lunar New Year and is the West’s Christmas and New Year’s Eve rolled into one. From sun up to sun down, this is a time when the whole country throws itself into celebrating and eating.

Legend of Chinese New Year:


No one is quite sure exactly when or where the festival originated. Legend has it that once upon a time, there was a monster called Nian that attacked Chinese villages every spring, eating anything that came its way – people, animals, plants and the odd building. One spring, villagers hung red paper on their doors and threw bamboo on a fire when arrived. The monster was so startled by the bright colors and loud crackling noise of the burning bamboo that it turned and fled. Today the word“ nian” is the Chinese word for year.


Since that day, Chinese people hang red paper signs and lanterns outside their homes and enjoy making loud noises on New Year’s Eve. Firecrackers replaced bamboo after gunpowder was invented and the main idea today is the louder and bigger, the better.


 Activities of the Spring Festival:


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New Year Cleaning 

In the days leading up to the Spring Festival, every household gets a thorough clean since sweeping on New Year’s Day itself might sweep away the year’s good fortune. Breaking dishes or using sharp objects is also seen as potentially unlucky.


Family Reunion Dinner 

On Chinese New Year Eve, a grand family reunion dinner is held in every home. All family members are expected to return home for the reunion.Foods in the typical menu are chosen for their auspicious meanings, such as fish for richness and glutinous rick cakes (Nian Gao) for better life. Usually the fish is intentionally not finished, and the remaining is stored overnight. It comes from a Chinese pun “Nian Nian You Yu”, where the pronounciation of fish (Yu) is the same as leftover/surplus, thus giving a message of “having profit every year”.

The Character Fu 

The Character Fu, literally meaning luck, auspiciousness, happiness or blessing, is a must in Spring Festival decorations. It can be found on a poster, on a red envelope, as a paper-cutting work, on a Chinese knot, and in many other New Year decorations for the festival.

An interesting fact is that the Character Fu is usually displayed upside-down. That’s because in Chinese, the words for “upside-down” and “to arrive” sound similar. Therefore, pasting the Character Fu upside-down on a door indicates “Good luck arrives”.


New Year CoupletsCharacter Fu 

New Year Couplets are an essential part of Spring Festival decorations. New Year Couplets are written in black ink on two vertical strips of red paper which is then pasted each on one side of a door. The first (or upper) line is on the right side while the second (lower) line is on the left. A third horizontal piece is pasted on the door frame.

Typically the New Year Couplets present a happy and hopeful message and sincere wish for a better New Year.


Worship Ceremony

Ancestral worship and God worship are important parts of festivals for paying respects to ancestors or fairies, and wishing for a smooth and harvest year. Heaven Worship at Temple of Heaven in Beijing is a highlight during the Chinese New Year Festival. It tries to reproduce at most the worship ceremony of the Qing Dynasty (1616-1912A.D.). From costumes to props, from music to ceremonial utensils, and to the etiquette, all efforts to bring you back to the imperial time.


Red Envelope 

Red Envelope or Red Packetis a monetary gift (lucky money packed in a red envelope) presented at social and family gatherings such as weddings or on holidays such as the Lunar New Year. It symbolizes good luck and is supposed to ward off evil spirits. It is also named as Ya Sui Qian, meaning money to guard against evil and bless with happiness.

Traditionally the lucky money is in even number (especially in a number with auspicious meanings). For example, 88 is a lucky number for the pronounciation of eight is similar to the words for getting rich.


Spring Festival Activities in Beijing:


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Temple Fair 

Temple fair is one of the most important celebration activities during the Spring Festival in Beijing. This traditional cultural event integrates religious worship and entertainment, and features almost all kinds of Chinese folk art. Temple fairs in Beijing have a long history, and the origin can be traced back to the Liao Dynasty (907 – 1125). The fairs are held at various ancient temples regularly or during festivals, so they are called “temple fairs”.

For foreigners, visiting a temple fair is definitely a cultural experience. You may enjoy the reenactment of the ceremony of worship to Earth and Heaven. Folk performances like dragon and lion dances, demonstration of traditional arts and crafts, and fun games are all part and parcel of temple fairs. You can also taste numerous Beijing snacks, court dishes and delicacies. Read more on New Year celebrations in Beijing


Ditan Temple Fair

Ditan Temple Fair is one of the most popular and long-standing fairs in Beijing. About one million people visit it each year during the Spring Festival. Besides the ceremonies, there are a wide range of folk performances and activities, such as puppet shows, traditional art exhibitions, dragon and lion dances, and acrobatic shows.

Location: Ditan (Temple of the Earth) Park, East Avenue, Anding Gate, Dongcheng District.

 

Longtan Temple Fair

Longtan Temple Fair is also one of the most popular o ones of its kind in Beijing. The activities here are very similar to those in Ditan Temple Fair. Various interactive games and competitions invite you to join in, such as table tennis, diabolo (Chinese Yoyo) spinning and arm wrestling. Folk performances and local snacks also abound at the fair.

 



Dongyue Temple Fair Dongyue Temple Fair

Dongyue Temple Fair had started as early as the Yuan Dynasty (1206 – 1368). The culture of “Fu” has been the essence of this fair. Many activities are centered on the “Fu” culture. Visitors can pray for food fortune at the altar, walk on the “Fu” road, or hang a “Fu” card to invite Fu” for the coming year. Colorful folk performances, artwork displays, and snacks are also available.

 

Happy Independence Day to the People of Sri Lanka (4th February)

Have you ever visited Sri Lanka, truly, a heavenly tropical paradise island known as Ceylon, Serendib, Taprobane, Emerald Island located in the center of the Indian Ocean, celebrating its Independence Day on 4th February. MSF (http://www.msf-ebooks.org) wishes to the people of Sri Lanka Happy Independence Day.

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Sri Lanka is also a member of the Commonwealth, the SAARC, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank and the Colombo Plan.

 

 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the 5th President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, assumed his second term of office on November 19, 2010.

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He established a record in Sri Lankan political history with being the first Executive President to lead his party to a landslide victory in Parliamentary Elections held just over two months after being elected for a second term of office as Executive President with an overwhelming majority of 1,842,749, polling 6,015,934 votes.

His success in Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in January and April 2010 respectively, came after a series of sweeping victories in elections to eight Provincial Councils by the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by him. The UPFA now has an over two thirds majority in parliament.

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President Rajapaksa’s election for a second term of office in the Presidential Election held on January 26, 2010, saw the Sri Lankan electorate recognizing him as the national leader who liberated the country from the terrorism of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and set the country on the path to peace, stronger democracy and rapid economic development.

 

 History of Sri Lanka:

 

The story of ancient Lanka has its beginnings in the culture of stone, the Stone Age. An ageless, timeless period, the Stone Age in Sri Lanka stretched from 125,000 BC to 1000 BC. Encompassing tens of thousands of years, the scales are so vast that we still cannot measure it properly. It is like peering through a telescope, looking at a world so far away that is visible only in fractions, a fleeting glimpse here and there. This era is called “prehistory”. The time before the dawn of history.

It is during the period that we find traces of early man. He appears to have lived almost everywhere; along the coast, on the plains and amongst the rolling grasslands of the hill country. The richest evidence however survives in caves. It is only then that the Stone Age begins to take shape in our minds. At caverns like Fa Hsien – lena, near Buthsinhala ( C 35,000 – 3400 BC ) Batadomba – lena in Kuruwita ( C 29,000 – 9500 BC ) and Beli lena in Kitugala ( C 28,000 – 1500 BC ).

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The Balangoda Man is a popular parlance, derived from his being responsible for the Mesolithic “Balangoda Culture” first defined in sites near Balangoda. The bones are robust, with thick skull-bones, prominent brow-ridges, depressed wide noses, heavy jaws and short necks. The teeth are conspicuously large. These traits have survived in varying degrees among the Veddas and certain Sinhalese groups, thus pointing to Balangoda Man as a common ancestor.

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Sri Lanka has an enthralling recorded history of civilization. Its unique and proud historical record of a great civilization spans over 25 chronicled centuries, and is documented primarily in three books; the Mahavansa (Great Genealogy or Dynasty), Dipavansa and Culavansa. Sri Lankan history is distinctive as it has a historical record, which is ancient, continuous and trustworthy, and begins with the occupation of the island by civilized men in 5th century, BC. The story continues under each successive king for over 20 centuries. The Mahavamsa is primarily a dynamic and religious historical record. In addition to this record, there are over 2500 inscriptions in Sri Lanka. The earliest inscriptions are contemporary with the introduction of Buddhism in the 3rd century BC. More than 1000 epigraphs, mostly inscribed on caves, belong to the third, second and first centuries BC, exist in the dry zone as well as in the old caves temples in Colombo, Kegalla, and Kandy.

Largest cities of Sri Lanka

 

Colombo:

The capital and the most populous city in Sri Lanka are not only busy in business and trade industry. Colombo is a perfect spot where anyone can witness how the past and present meet at a crossroad. This is the very reason why thousands of tourists flock the place every year.

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Situated in the west coast, Colombo boasts of magnificent man-made wonders that will leave visitors at awe. One of this wonders is the Wolvendaal Church built in 1749 that became a center of religious beliefs and practices. Another site is the old Legislative Council Building in Colombo fort that served protection spots against Dutch and British oppressors. The Gargarama temple is another religious hub and tourist destination in the city.

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Things to do in Colombo:

·        Play a round of golf at The Royal Colombo Golf Club.  The immaculately manicured greens of the Royal Colombo Golf Club have attracted golfers for 129 years, a slice of golfing history.

·        Enjoy a city tour hop on board the exciting open deck double Decker of the Colombo City Tour to witness the charm of Colombo.

·        Enjoy some seafood on Mt Lavinia Beach.  It is one of Colombo’s more laidback suburbs filled with great seafood restaurants on the golden beach and is named after Lovinia, the gypsy dancing girl who had a secret romance with one of Sri Lanka’s governors.

·        Do some shopping; One of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets is the shopping secret opportunities in Colombo –sleek department stores and cool shopping malls are filled with designer clothing, shoes and handbags, plus handicrafts, home furnishings and more.

·        Indulge in a massage at one of Colombo’s Spas featuring serene surroundings and expert masseurs trained in everything from Swedish to Shiatsu.

·        Visit to National Museum, it has some terrific examples of ancient paintings, sculptures and sketches dating back to the 4th century BC, while if it’s something contemporary you want, the city has a thriving arts scene, with many creative painters exhibiting in local galleries.

·        Visit Temple; The Gangarama Vihara is one of the most venerable temples in the country, decorated with wonderful brass work, stone carvings, and other Buddhist art. Also a place of learning, it houses a museum, complete with residential hall.

·        Visit Dehiwal Zoological Garden;beautifully landscaped 30 acres in which a rich collection of mammals, birds, reptiles and fishes live in harmony with Nature.

·        Get wet and wild at leisure world Sri Lanka’s first amusement and Water Park features log flumes, roller coasters, and many other thrilling rides for kids and adults. 

·        Eat some Kothu Rotti; the quintessential Sri Lankan snack consists of sliced-up bits of rotti, expertly blended with your choice of chicken, beef, egg, onions, tomatoes and green chilies. Unmissable.

·        Go for a ride in a Trishaw; these motorised three-wheeled chariots are the backbone of Sri Lankan transport – just remember to hang on for dear life!

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Ahungalla

Most people visit the country of Sri Lanka and its different regions for the beach and scenery, and Ahungalla is no different. Aside from the long stretch of Ahungalla beach, another famous beach in this region is the one in Kosgoda. This place is also well known for the multitudes of turtles that swim its coast. Since not much people are aware of Sri Lanka as a tourist spot yet, the areas here are not as populated as other countries.

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Another tourist activity to consider while in Ahungalla is shopping. Not the normal commercialized shopping in malls but shopping that makes you experience culture as well. Street vendors can be found everywhere and offer everything from fruits and vegetables to intricate masks. You might also want to take this time to visit a moonstone quarry, some in Meetiyagoda, to choose from the countless selections of stone encrusted jewelries or even precious stones in their simple forms. Just remember to have Sri Lankan Rupees with you.

There are also various restaurants that you can try here that offer both local delicacies as well as well-loved international favorites. If you are in the mood for European or Italian dishes, you might want to try Lotus Villa located along the beachfront of Ahungalla or Don’s Deli that can be found along Duplication Road. If ever you are in the mood for pizza or pasta, try Izza Pizza also found on Duplication Road. There are also countless shops and restaurants along Kosgoda beach that offers a variety of food and souvenirs.

Adam’s Peak

Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands, in which Adam’s Peak stands, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2010 to protect the montane forests which are home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species such as the western-purple-faced langur, and the Sri Lankan leopard. The region is considered a super biodiversity hotspot.

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Kandy

This sacred Buddhist site, popularly known as the city of Senkadagalapura, was the last capital of the Sinhala kings whose patronage enabled the Dinahala culture to flourish for more than 2,500 years until the occupation of Sri Lanka by the British in 1815. It is also the site of the Temple of the Tooth Relic (the sacred tooth of the Buddha), which is a famous pilgrimage site.

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Negombo

Negombo situated by the shores of a lagoon by the same name once has been a trading port for Portuguese and Dutch and is an ideal place for those who want quick access to and from the airport. Attractions in the city are the old Dutch fort gate built in 1672 now a part of the prison, the Dutch Canal which was then a supply route to the Dutch administration, old churches and fishing villagers. The 100km long canal running through the town is still being used and is an attraction for those who want to see the country from a different perspective. 

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The stretch of road towards Kotchchikade comes to life at dusk (most shops are open at daytime too) with many handicrafts and curio shops, gem shops, restaurants and internet cafes catering for tourists.

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Galle:

The capital of the southern province is a city with a colorful history. UNESCO declared World Heritage Site the magnificent Dutch fort is the most popular attraction of the town. 300 year old Dutch atmosphere is still very much alive around the fort and amidst its many historical buildings not invaded by the skyscrapers. The beautiful beach of Unawatuna is just 6km south east of the city centre.

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The southern coastal belt is the most popular among the tourists and comes to life mainly from October through April when the monsoon moves northeast and the sea becomes calm with blue skies. The earliest European administrative centre of Sri Lanka was the major port and the largest city until the British shifted the port to Colombo. The City of Galle had been the European administrative centre over 4 centuries.

  

Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa is one of the earliest tourist beaches of Sri Lanka famous for its sandy beaches and superb waves for surfing. Once a popular coral reefs at Hikkaduwa are now nearly extinct. There are many hotels and guest houses to suit any budget with varying quality and comfort. 

Your itineraries at Hikkaduwa may include hiring a glass bottom boat for coral viewing, surfing, snorkeling, going fishing with the locals, scuba diving or simply relaxing in the beach. There are also nice lagoons not to far away, which is nice to visit if you need a break from the beach.

The people of Hikkaduvva are really friendly and you don’t get the feeling of being cheated all the time. Its a place you visit and if you stay a few days people will remember you.

Wasgamuwa National Park

WASGAMUWA NATIONAL PARK situated in the districts of Matale and Polonnaruwa, this substantial national park stretches up to a remarkable 36,948 hectares. Initially Wasgamuwa was affirmed to be a strict nature reserve in 1938 but then it was altered and declared into a national park in 1984. The park lies within the central and northern central provinces. Rainfall is generally by the northeast monsoon (December to February) and inter-monsoonal rains. Meaning annual rainfall can vary from about 1750mm in a dry zone to about 2250mm in an intermediate zone. The yearly temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius.

 

 Wasgamuwa National Park

Park consists of Riverina forest, dry mixed evergreen forest, grasslands and wetlands. As park is almost surrounded by Mahaweli & Amban Rivers, riverine forest area is fairly large.

 

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Wasgamuwa is famous as an elephant habitat. These elephants are known to be less habituated to people and are more wildish. Other than elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sambhur, spotted and barking deer, wild boar and wild buffalo are also found here. Torque Macaque, Purple face leaf monkey and nocturnal slender Loris is also found in the park. Lesser Adjutant, Wooly necked stork, open bill, painted stork, Racket tailed Drongo, Yellow fronted barbet, Sri Lanka Junglefowl & Spurfowl are among the over 100 species of birds found within the park.

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Pristine:


Sri Lanka is a paradise island offering visitors incomparable beach holidays. With the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean gently lapping its pristine shores, Sri Lanka’s beaches are covered with soft warm sand. Home to tropical fish and living corals the waters surrounding Sri Lanka are warm thanks to the tropical climate the island enjoys. With over 1300 km of beach on offer, all you have to do is come to Sri Lanka and spend hours of fun in the sun. 

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Whether you are looking to just relax in the sun and get the perfect tan or if you are looking for more action such as surfing, diving or jet skiing, Sri Lanka has much to offer with its world renowned best beaches. Come visit Sri Lanka, the wonder of Asia.

 

 

Jaffna

Jaffna or Yazhpanam is the capital city of the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. Most of the residents of Jaffna are Sri Lankan Tamils with a presence of Sri Lankan Moors and Portuguese Burghers . Almost all Sri Lankan Muslims were driven off from Jaffna by the LTTE in the 1990s, as a result of the ethnic conflict which started in the 1970s [1] which leaves Jaffna exclusively Tamil, apart from the military personnel.

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Food in Sri Lanka

The nurturing of many types of rice, spices, vegetables and fruit, coupled

with past foreign influences, ensures that Sri Lanka enjoys a varied and

selected cuisine. As a staple, rice is consumed with an assortment of colorful

curries (eggplant, potato, green banana, chicken, fish) that range in potency

from delicately-spiced to near-dynamite.

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Other Sri Lankan staples include hoppers (a pancake-like snack), string hoppers (steamed rice noodles) and pittu (a mixture of flour and coconut). Lampreys – rice and accompaniments baked in plantain leaves – is a legacy of the Dutch. Seafood lovers will rejoice at the fresh fish, prawns, crab, squid and crayfish available. Desserts include buffalo curd eaten with palm-honey, and the Malay-derived caramel-like wattalapam.

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Sri Lanka has a wonderful array of snacks, known as short eats, named cutlets, patties, malu pang (fish bun), and kimbula bunis (crocodile-shaped bun!) that are excellent for trips.

Delectable fruit includes the popular mango, pineapple, banana and papaya, but also many lesser-known but distinctive examples such as sapodilla, mangosteen, rambuttan, woodapple, custard apple and beli.

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Shopping:

 

 

Shopping in Sri Lanka can take many forms: haggling with a handicraft-seller

 

while sunbathing on the beach; choosing fruit from the traditional village store,

 

the kadé,while side-stepping sacks of rice checking out the bargain-priced

 

latest international fashions (Sri Lanka is a major garment exporter) while

 

enjoying the ambience of a luxurious shopping centre in Colombo.


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And there’s much in-between. Visit a handicraft shop and familiarize yourself with traditional designs such as makara (a mythical animal, lion, swan, elephant and lotus which are most evident in brass work (boxes, trays, lanterns, vases) and silverware (ornately carved and filigree jewellery, tea-sets) that make excellent souvenirs. In addition, ritual masks, lacquer ware, batik and handloom textiles, lace, and wood carvings are popular.


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Last but certainly not least, Sri Lanka has the widest variety of precious stones among the world’s gem producing countries –blue sapphiresstar sapphiresrubies, cat’s eye, garnets, moonstonesaquamarines and topazes being just a dazzling handful. What’s more, Sri Lanka naturally has a tradition in jewellery-making, so you can bring your gems to life.

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Please visit to download a pdf guide books to Sri Lank