Adams Peak, Perahara, oldest library, iron artifacts, Middle Stone Age
Religion plays an important role in Sri Lanka; a revival of Buddhism was associated with the rise of Sinhalese nationalism. Most public holidays are based on religious festivals. The annual torchlight temple procession, or Perahara, in which ornamentally covered elephants and hundreds of dancers participate, draws thousands of devotees. Pilgrimages also play an important role here. The most important pilgrimage is to the top of Adams Peak. Muslims believe that Adam and Eve lived here after they left the Garden of Eden. Buddhists visit a rock on the peak that they believe contains one of Buddha’s footprints. Another important pilgrimage is to the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, where it is believed that one of Buddha’s teeth is enshrined.
Sinhalese society, although Buddhist, is stratified along caste lines. Ceylon Tamil society reproduces the caste features found in India, although in modified form.
The Colombo National Museum Library (1870), incorporating the collection of the Government Oriental Library, is the largest in Sri Lanka. The oldest library is the Department of National Archives in Colombo, which contains the official records of the Dutch Administration from 1640 to 1796, the British Administration from 1796 to 1948, and the independent nation from 1948 to the present.
Middle Stone Age implements such as bones and grinding stones have been unearthed in the Bandarawela region in the south; some late Stone Age tools of ground quartz were discovered nearby. Early Buddhist pottery and iron artifacts have been found throughout the country. Hindu burial relics dating from the 3rd century bc have been discovered in the North Western Province. The National Museums of Sri Lanka, with branches located in Colombo, Kandy, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, Galle, and Trincomalee, contain collections of archaeological finds and historical documents of the country.
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