Sri Lanka Religions – Which Religion Sri Lankan People Believe

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Religions in Sri Lanka as Percentage
Sri Lanka religions as percentage chart

There are four major Religions in Sri Lanka. Buddism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam.

religions in sri lanka
Major religions in Sri Lanka.

Buddhism – Main Religion in Sri Lanka

The majority of the locals have devoted followers of Buddhism. The country’s age-long history has a very close and important connection with Buddhism.  

When you refer the history books, you could find that Buddhism took birth in Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BCE. It was initiated by Mahinda Thera, who was the son of Emperor Ashoka. It was when King Devanampiya Tissa was ruling the Anuradhapura Kingdom.

During this time, a branch of Bodhgaya tree was brought to Sri Lanka. Buddhism has seen spreading rapidly around the land.

An Indian scholar named Buddhagosa took the initiative in writing the very first Pali canon in Sri Lanka.

When foreign armies attacked Sri Lanka, Buddhism took a big hit during the era from the 5th century to the 11th century. Kings who ruled over the years took the initiative to re-build the damaged stupas and monasteries. Kind Vijayababu, the first of the kingdom of Polonnaruwa, was one of them.

He enriched Buddhism in the land by bringing down various monks from around the world. In the year 1880, The Buddhist Theosophical Society was established by Sir Henry Olcott and Buddhist leaders.

Their main goal was to build Buddhist schools around the Island, they were very successful in their mission. By 1940, there over 400 Buddhist schools established around the country. 

Other religions in Sri Lanka

During Colonial times, Sri Lanka had many Christian priests come down here. Christianity makes up 8% of Sri Lanka’s population. Most are Catholics. Christianity took its first roots in the sixteenth century.

Under the Portuguese, Roman Catholicism spread out on the Island with many Roman Catholic schools for the Sinhalese and the Tamils. When the Dutch took over, the Dutch Reformed Church introduced. 

Hinduism is a second most popular religion in Sri Lanka with a percentage 16% out of Sri Lanka’s population.

The religion is still dominant in the Northern and Eastern provinces. Hindus often create a shrine with icons dedicated to their chosen form of God.

Temples usually dedicated to a primary deity. Today three Gods are widely seen as all-powerful: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma regarded as the ultimate source of creation; Shiva also has a creative role alongside his function as a destroyer.

Vishnu seen as the preserver or protector of the universe. 

There is about 8% of Muslims living in Sri Lanka. The origins date back to the 15th century when Arab traders had controlled Sri Lanka’s trade market.

Many of these traders settled down in Sri Lanka, to spread of Islam. During the 16th century, many of their Muslim descendants persecuted by the Portuguese.

Hence they forced to migrate to the Central Highlands and to the east coast. There are two major denominations of Islam, the Sunni and Shia. Roughly 85% of Muslims are Sunni.

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