About Us India – Sri Lanka Cultural Relations

India – Sri Lanka Cultural Relations


  1. For India and Sri Lanka, two close neighbours with a shared history and civilizational links dating back several millennia, cultural cooperation is an important aspect of the bilateral relationship.  The advent of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BCE is linked with the arrival of Prince Mahendra (also known as Arahat Mahinda) and later of Princess Sanghamitra, the children of the great Indian Emperor Ashoka.  The bonds forged since then have become stronger over the years.


  1. The Cultural Cooperation Agreement signed by the Government of India and the Government of Sri Lanka on 29 November, 1977 forms the basis on which periodic Programmes of Cultural Cooperation between the countries are signed and implemented.


  1. A number of events have been organized in recent years to strengthen the cultural cooperation between the two countries. The shared heritage of Buddhism is one of the most important pillars of this cooperation. In 2017, Hon. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited Sri Lanka as Chief Guest for the International Vesak Day celebrations. An exposition of the most holy Lord Buddha’s relics from Sarnath was organised during the Vesak Day celebrations in 2018.





  1. High Commission organised a series of events to celebrate 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi including producing a video of Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajan ‘Vaishnav Jan to’ with eminent artists Bathiya, Santhush and Umaria from Sri Lanka. The video can be accessed at the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuhFiG2IaKg


  1. A special musical performance by the Violin Maestro Dr. L. Subramaniam and the National Leipaja Latvian Philharmonic Orchestra was also organised on 02nd Ocober 2018. In 2019, Government of Sri Lanka released special stamps on Mahatma Gandhi to mark his birth anniversary, a bust of Mahatma Gandhi was also installed at Temple Trees, the official residence of Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.


  1. In the field of crafts and cuisine, the High Commission organised ‘Shilpakala’ an exhibition of traditional handicrafts and textiles from both countries in 2016. Indian artists continue to participate every year in the exhibitions organised by National Craft Council of Sri Lanka while Sri Lankan artists participate in Surajkund Mela in India.


  1. High Commission of India also organised a series of events in 2019 centering around ‘Khadi’ to promote the hand spun fabric as well as Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of sustainability and self-reliance.


  1. Shared heritage of Yoga and Ayurveda serves as another close bond between India and Sri Lanka. For the last five years, International Day of Yoga has been celebrated with great fanfare and participations from all many local institutions. High Commission of India also organised a ‘Yoga Road Show’ in 2018 to popularize yoga in the interiors of Sri Lanka.


  1. Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre regularly organizes performing arts and visual arts programmes in collaboration with local artists as well as artists from India. The cultural Centre has been organizing widely regarded programmes such as ‘Thyagraja Aradhana’ since last 15 years and Shankar International Children’s Competition since last 20 years.


  1. High Commission also supported a Tri Nation Peace Concert held in October 2019, where the Ao Naga Choir from India performed. High Commission has also organised musical performances to celebrate the Republic Day and Independence Day of India with participation of eminent Indian artists such as Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Usha Uthup, Dr L Subramaniam and Kavitha Krishnamurthy.


  1. While the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre organizes classes for Indian dance forms, music and Hindi language, Government of India also supports many cultural societies and groups in Sri Lanka which explore and promote cross cultural knowledge through financing and aid.


  1. Popularity of Bollywood Cinema and India being the largest source for tourism in Sri Lanka has also created a demand for interlocutors in Hindi. A Hindi chair has been set up in University of Kelaniya under a Memorandum of Understanding signed between University of Kelaniya and Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Sanskrit is also being taught as a compulsory subject for Buddhist studies in 10 major Universities and more than 750 pirivenas (primary religious schools).


  1. High Commission of India also commemorated the 550th Birth Anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji with a talk, documentary screening and soulful rendition of Kirtan/Ardas by Gyaniji from Sri Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara, Colombo.


  1.  A photography exhibition on ‘Making of Indian Constitution’ was organised on the occasion of Constitution Day on26 November 2019. The Exhibition showcased rare photographs of the process of  making of the Indian Constitution, meeting of the first Constituent Assembly and its members including Dr B.R. Ambedkar, independent India’s  first Law Minister and popularly known as Chief Architect of the Indian Constitution.