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How Sri Lankans Meet And Greet Each Other

Meeting and greeting in Sri Lanka is indeed an art that takes quite a bit of practice to master the traditional manner of how it is done. From taking off your shoes at the doorstep to greeting one another with an ayubowan or vannakkam with the palms of one’s hands pressed together whilst slightly bowing the head is the traditional manner of greeting one another in Sri Lanka. While a fist pump or a quick hug may seem like a convenient fix when it comes to greeting someone, as Sri Lankans we take our traditions very seriously and treasure these old school practices, regardless of all the modern twists we may take on other things.

The Importance Of Culture

While this little island is known for its colourful festivals and food, it is also noted for its rich, traditional culture that is influenced by the different religions practiced amongst the Sri Lankan community, making Sri Lanka one of the friendliest nations in the world. The friendly nature of Sri Lankans is yet another factor that plays an important role in how Sri Lankans meet and greet each other. Despite all the western influence that has come upon Sri Lanka, there are certain practices that never age. Although it is not obligatory, Sri Lankans follow the practice of taking off their shoes at the doorstep of someone’s house purely out of respect towards the host and their house.

Sri Lankans take pride in their culture and traditions. Image Courtesy: srilankatravelandtourism.com

Hello The Sri Lankan Way

Ayubowan is the Sinhala term for ‘hello’. However it carries a much heavier meaning to it in comparison to an ordinary hello, as it translates to ‘may you live a long life.’ Similarly, ‘vannakkam’ is the Tamil term that is used to recognize and respect the presence of another individual. Regardless of all the modern advancements that have taken place over the years, Sri Lankans still use these two terms to greet one another, as it is not just respectful but also reflects the culture that they take pride in.

Culture and Etiquette

The etiquette practiced in Sri Lanka is also influenced by culture. Self introduction is not something that Sri Lankans follow, even if they are meeting someone for the first time. After greeting guests with an ayubowan or vannakkam, getting to know the other individual is always done through a series of friendly questions instead of directly introducing one’s self.

Similarly, it is also a part of the Sri Lankan culture for the whole family to be involved in taking care of their guests. While the male in the family usually strikes a conversation with the guests, the female together with the children engage themselves in preparing and serving their guests with something to eat and drink.

Sri Lankan Hospitality

Tea and Biscuits

Sri Lankans take great pride in inviting people over to their homes. A Sri Lankan social meeting involves a lot of conversations, but also food. Regardless of whether you visit someone’s house in the morning, afternoon, or evening you will always be treated to tea or coffee, accompanied with some good old Sri Lankan biscuits.

The neatly arranged platter of biscuits that comes with having tea. Image Courtesy: youtube.com


After a bit of chit-chatting and gossiping about who got married to whom and who is carrying on with whom, comes the strong, yet sweet cup of tea or coffee that is usually served with milk. As much as Sri Lankans love spicy food, they also have a sweet tooth that longs for that extra spoon of sugar when it comes to having a warm cup of tea or coffee. A Sri Lankan style gathering is never complete if your cup of tea or coffee is not served with biscuits straight out of the tin or neatly arranged on a plate. With biscuits of all shapes and sizes ranging from sweet to savoury, Sri Lankans enjoy their biscuits regardless of it being infused with some spice or neatly sandwiched with some cream.

Sharing is caring

Biscuits as gifts

Sri Lankans also believe that sharing is caring. Taking something along with you when you visit your family or friends is yet another practice that is followed when it comes to meeting and greeting. In most cases hosts are gifted with a tin, box, or packet of biscuits. Gifting them biscuits is something that has been practiced for many years and still continues to be practiced by many. In some instances, the gifted biscuits are instantly opened and served to the guests where as in other instances it is politely accepted and kept aside. This old school practice of gifting biscuits involve the giving of biscuits that have usually been in the market for many years and are believed to be enjoyed by everyone. However, with many new biscuits coming in to the market it has now moved on to gifting the newest biscuit in the market at the time.

With many having become coffeeholics at present, coffee biscuits have now become a thing. In addition to just sipping a cup of coffee, you can now have your coffee in the form of a biscuit with the Maliban Real Temptation biscuits filled with coffee. Made to perfection with the sensational aroma and flavour of coffee, Maliban Real Temptation coffee biscuits are now equivalent to a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. Treat your taste buds to some Maliban Real Temptation coffee biscuits to have a first-hand coffee experience like never before. At a fairly reasonable price coffeeholics can now have their coffee fix anywhere at anytime and it is also an ideal gift to take with you when visiting your family, friends, or relatives.

Coffee now in the form of a biscuit. Image Courtesy: malibanbiscuit.com

A Sri Lankan social meeting often ends with many goodbyes, as the conversation tends to keep going even after the initial goodbye is said. Starting with goodbyes around the coffee table, a Sri Lankan meetup officially comes to an end after the guests have put their shoes back on at the doorstep and both parties give each other an open invitation for a meal.

Cover image courtesy: d1bv4heaa2n05k.cloudfront.net

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