Introduction / History
Not all Sri Lankans are Sinhalese but about three-quarters are. In 1975, 432 Sri Lankans came to America to live. Many Sri Lankans came to America during the Sri Lankan civil war in the 1990s. They live in New York City which has the largest number of them, then central New Jersey, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami. Sri Lankan Buddhists tend to live near others of them who are Buddhists while their Hindus usually live near other Hindus.
The second generation of Sri Lankans are used to the American culture. Parents often send their children to religious courses in the U.S.A.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Sri Lankans eat curries, fish, rice, soup and vegetables for example. Coconut milk is a very important ingredient with regards their cooking of meals. They have holidays each month when there is a full moon. With Buddhists, May is the most important full moon holy day as Gautama Buddha was born and passed away then. Sinhala is the main language spoken amongst the Sinhalese.
The Goyigama Caste of the Sinhalese is the main one. Sri Lankan Americans do not use caste limitations when mixing with Americans. They live in single units but not with relatives. Relatives may come to live in the same community though.
Sri Lankan Americans are well educated and most have been to colleges. A lot of Sri Lankans who come to live in America do so because of better job opportunities. Many of them have their own businesses.
Cross cousin marriages are most favored. The preferred person for a man to marry is the daughter of the sister of his father and with the woman the favorite way to marry is with the son of the brother of her mother. Children can refuse the marriage partner chosen by their parents even though marriages are arranged. The Sri Lankans have nuclear families of husbands, wives and their children who are not married.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Buddhists and Hindus As well as Muslims and Christians are found amongst the Sri Lankans.
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