Dealing with cultural differences in Sri Lanka

Dealing with cultural differences in Sri Lanka

While being sensitive to other people’s cultures whilst travelling is a piece of advice which should be adhered to by all tourists worldwide, locals and local authorities sometimes take cultural offences to a very extreme end.

Such was the case when Naomi Coleman, a 41-year-old British national, visited Sri Lanka in 2014. Though the mental health nurse had visited the island country twice already before without issue, the local authorities then decided that had tattoo of the Buddha was too offensive.

Their reaction was to detail Coleman for four days and then deport her back home. As soon as she got back to Coventry, she decided to take legal action against the Sri Lankan authorities for what she had to go through.

Fortunately, the Sri Lankan Supreme Court decided that her arrest was not legal. Thus, she was awarded 800,000 Sri Lankan rupees as compensation (the equivalent of £4,000).

Those with tattoos who wish to travel in Sri Lanka should not be deterred as the country is generally safe for tourists. Locals and local authorities take offence when tattoos are related to Buddhism as it is considered offensive. Most other tattoos should be okay, especially if they are located in an easy-to-cover location.

Unfortunately, there is nothing to do about it. If you do have a tattoo of the Buddha and still wish to travel to Sri Lanka, make sure that you are able to cover up.

Coleman herself has been a practising Buddhist for more than 10 years and had never experienced such treatment prior to that incident. While she believes that most people in Sri Lanka are very welcoming and friendly, she has also decided not to go back for the foreseeable future.

Once again, it should be said that travellers to Sri Lanka are perfectly safe and they will not get into any sort of trouble as long as they follow the simple rules and laws of the country.

Sri Lanka is a fantastic destination for anyone who wishes to experience Asia but would rather also stay in an island paradise instead of a country like India. Combining both mountains and sea, the island country is set to become one of the top holiday destinations.