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Sri Lanka as a haven for multiculturalism

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( Sri Lanka is one of the best examples of a multicultured society) ( Sri Lanka is one of the best examples of a multicultured society) (Pic AFP)

Multiculturalism is a philosophy that respects ethnic diversity within a society and that encourages people to learn from the contributions of those diverse ethnic backgrounds. In simple words it means people that come from different walks of life, be it different religions or ethnicities, living together as one while maintaining the respect for each other’s culture. A multi cultured society has people who know how to respect and tolerate other ethnic customs. In fact a country where multiculturalism is profoundly seen should also be a preferred country for citizens to dwell for they have the democracy and freedom to follow their own customs.

We have ample evidence in the past to prove how people of different ethnicities co-existed in Sri Lanka with no external pressures. But the current settings have deviated somewhat from that harmonious past. There were several religious issues concerning the Muslim community and a certain religious organization. In our view the famous Aluthgama event which ended up in curfew occurred due to lack of religious tolerance. Multiculturalism is the best answer for such violent disputes. Sri Lanka is one of the best examples of a multicultured society. It has four main ethnic identities: Sinhalese, Muslim, Tamil, and Burgher. Sri Lankans follow one of four major religions; Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.

Multiculturalism is a point of attraction for a country especially for tourism purposes. Sri Lanka portrays its cultural diversity geographically. Towards the North of the island a culture dominated by the Tamils can be seen whereas the East displays a highly crowded Muslim culture and Colombo is cosmopolitan.

Let me portray some of the benefits we receive from the concept of Multiculturalism. Firstly, it keeps us open minded and promotes diversity. It is also a good way to meet different people. Interactions with new people adds value to your life as you build mutual understanding with them bringing harmonious lifestyles. You learn new languages, eat new food, have new shops, observe new religions, churches, different cultures, new traditions and new celebrations. Enjoying different lifestyles of people is a point of entertainment too. Multiculturalism reduces ignorance as people learn to appreciate different perspectives and other cultures and acquire cultural relativism.

However multiculturalism has been accused for several drawbacks. Deviation from traditional cultures is the most threatening drawback. As the younger generation follows a westernized culture it threatens the trusted traditions and customs of the country. Deviation from traditional cultures could be overcome by portraying our very own cultures in the place we reside. In a multicultured environment there cannot be strict divisions deriving from restricted ethnic groups. Despite the fact that our ethnicities are different, all of us are human beings. The only language all the human beings understand irrespective of their culture is “Humanity”. The deep root end of multiculturalism is identification of humanity and giving due respect for each other in human values. All of us have the same senses, organs, flesh and blood flowing in our human bodies. Multiculturalism is the voice of peace, unity and harmony among the world human beings.

Last modified on Saturday, 07 March 2015 17:00

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