On The Road - Sri Lanka
11. Feb. 2021 | Shankra Sri Lanka

Considering that the total surface of Sri Lanka is about 65'000 km2, so a bit bigger than Switzerland, we could say that distances are not really vasts and getting around the island is cheap and easy.

First of all, get ready to experience local transports, as domestic flights are limited and expensive in this country, formerly known as Serendib or Ceylon. Public transports available are train and buses, which are cheap but most of the time crowded. Other ways to explore the country are on a bike, a rental car, even a three-wheeler…let’s discover some practical information about them!


When you think of Sri Lanka, one of the most typical images that comes to mind is a train, traveling through a jungle-like landscape. Trains are the most comfortable way to cross the country via public transport, compared to buses: they are actually slow, but the journey is more relaxed and you can find many information in English. The national railways are run by Sri Lankan Railways.


There is nothing more colorful, messy, loud and typical than a bus ride in Sri Lanka. You can find snacks and gifts, locals and tourists, all packed in a small bus. Bus routes cover about 80% of the nation’s 90’000km of roads. There are both public buses or buses from private companies which offer, at a higher price, a deluxe service. Don’t forget to buy a ticket for your bag, as usually luggage space is limited or nonexistent.


The best way to explore both historical sites and the less crowded roads of the Northern and Eastern part of the country, is to rent a bike. Enjoy the breeze and get lost in the natural landscape! You can rent a bike even in hotels and guesthouses all around the country.

Illegal Dwelling - Conference
10. Feb. 2021 | Shankra Sri Lanka

Illegal Dwelling. An Ethnography of Living on the Fringe in the Western World.

The first place that comes in mind when we think about our identity is usually our home.

Humans have built, destroyed, moved and embellished personal dwellings for thousands of years. However, the relationship between social and cultural identity and our residences has radically changed overtime.

When have we stopped building our houses ourselves?

With this question, the anthropologist and researcher Andrea Staid will introduce the conference “Illegal Dwelling. An ethnography of living on the fringe in the Western World” at Shankra Festival in Sri Lanka 2022.

“Much is known about the informal, illegal, marginal housing conditions in the non-Western world, but what happens in Western societies? Do we/they all live in owned or rented flats as a one-person family? This anthropological and ethnographic conference analyses the types of informality of dwelling in the so-called first world - a world that is far away from the monolithic one we are used to think of”

In the conference, Andrea Staid shows the most varied housing experiences, from squats to tree houses, from Rom and Sinti camps to self-built houses and pueblos ocupados, eco-villages and urban slums, communes, co-housing and Wagenplatz, wanderers and tramps: spontaneous workshops that create- more or less consciously- new models of relation.

Andrea Staid is an anthropologist, activist and editor. He teaches at NABA, an internationally renowned art and design academy in Milan, researcher at the university of granada. Among the various books published, wrote The Damned of the Metropolis (10 reprints), Our Arms (2 reprints) and The people’s Arditi. The author of many other essays, his books have been translated in Greece, Spain and Germany.

Explore Andrea Staid's publications

Discover more about Andrea Staid

Have a watch at Andrea Staid videos

Introduction to Sanskrit - Lecture & Conference
4. Feb. 2021 | Shankra Sri Lanka

Sanskrit: the Oldest Language, Sacred and Eternal?

Whenever we embark the intense journey of learning a language, we are not just studying grammatical rules and phonetics, but we are also getting in touch with an entire culture, expressed through sounds, metaphors and phrases that are unique to a certain area or a particular era.

Sanskrit is the ancestor of many languages and dialects: some of the most important and ancient religious books are written in this ancient idiom.

How could we approach this fascinating world? Dr. Antonia Ruppel will tell us a little more about Sanskrit, while presenting her innovative teaching method. At Shankra Festival Sri Lanka 2022, she will be offering a talk entitled "Sanskrit: the oldest language, sacred and eternal?" and at least one Sanskrit taster lesson for complete beginners.

The Cambridge Introduction to Sanskrit (CIS) was written to address this question. It employs modern pedagogical methods and tools used successfully in textbooks for various other ancient languages. It does not expect any prior knowledge of linguistics, language learning or languages other than English.

The CIS pushes students a little further, by presenting new literary examples that are approachable to everybody, together with a large number of original Sanskrit texts (from short excerpts to two complete chapters of the Bhagavadgītā), each annotated so as to perfectly fit the student’s knowledge at that specific point of the course.

The devanāgarī script (the main way of writing Sanskrit) is introduced right at the beginning but used in parallel with transliteration for a full seven chapters. That way, students can progress with their actual language knowledge while slowly mastering the new script. Being able to read Sanskrit in both devanāgarī and transliteration means students can read more or less all Sanskrit texts available in print, as well as vast numbers of manuscripts.

Dr Antonia Ruppel started learning Sanskrit when she was 19 and a student at Cambridge, not because it was part of her studies, but because it sounded interesting. Over the past 15 years, she has taught hundreds of students in secondary school, university, and online, and in 2017, her Sanskrit textbook was published. She is a part-time Sanskrit researcher at the University of Oxford and a part-time Sanskrit lecturer at the University of Munich (three cheers for the possibility of working online!) and offers Sanskrit language and literature courses for Yogic Studies.

Discover more about The Cambridge Introduction to Sanskrit

10 Undiscovered Destinations in Sri Lanka
2. Feb. 2021 | Shankra Sri Lanka

Traveling opens new paths to explore something new about us, while getting to know different cultures. We explore, we gain new knowledge, and at the end of our adventure, we realize that we are not the same person as we were before: traveling allows us to grow and to open our vision to the world.

On your way to Shankra Festival Sri Lanka, or before getting back home, don’t miss the opportunity to visit these inspiring locations!

1. Ritigala Buddhist Monastery

Nature has always been the original drive that pushed humans to develop introspection. Ritigala’s remote forests have appealed to generations of religious ascetics wishing to explore their spirituality. This mysterious Monastery is hidden deep inside the Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve and benefits from being one of the quietest historical location of the island.

Buddhist monks established this monastery around 5’000 years ago. Meditation paths run through the trees, between little monastic residences. In this high-altitude forest, it is also possible to observe a diverse range of flora and fauna, some of which is unique to this area.

2. Wilpattu National Park

Willu Pattu means “ Land of the Lakes”: water has always been the origin of life and wildlife in Wilpattu National Park is amazingly crowded. Situated outside of frequent tourist tracks, this natural park conserves a pristine environment where many species of animals and plants can be quietly observed.

Elefants, water buffalos, deers and leopards run freely around Wilpattu’s 60 water basins, home of over 200 species of birds and crocodiles.

3. Buduruvagala

Nestled away in the Monaragala District, Buduruvagala Buddhist temple is one of the symbols of the charming history of the country. The name roughly translates to “the rock of Buddhist sculptures”: several impressive works of ancient art, reaching the height of 16 metres, can be admired in the site. This makes it the site with the largest standing Buddha statue found on the entire island!

The Buduruvagala has been dated back to the 9th or 10th century. It was originally used as a hermitage by Buddhist monks of the area.

4. Nainativu Island

In Nainativu Island, spirituality has ancient roots: the tiny island is in fact home of one of the most ancient places of worship in Sri Lanka, the historical Hindu temple Nagapooshani Amman Kovil. Over the years, Nainativu has become a significant pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists. In particular, Nagapooshani Amman Kovil is dedicated to the principal goddess of Tamil Hindus, Amman, mother goddess attributed with powers to protect, heal and to grant fertility.

Laugh and Be Amazed by Nani Rossi and McFois
29. Jan. 2021 | Shankra Sri Lanka

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” Charles Dickens

What brings people together, keeping us grounded and focused?

What has the power of strengthening our immune system, while boosting our mood and protecting us from stress? Not a new complicated practice or a rare super-food, but a simple laughter!

At Shankra Festival, we want you to collect and refuel enough laughs and smiles to survive the coldest of winters!

The three different shows of Nani Rossi and McFois, described down below, will fill up Shankra Festival with the roaring sound of a collective laughter, awakening our amazement with a combination of street theater, acrobatics and circus:


Jump into the rookie adventures of the agents Chesterfield and Wellington, trying to transfer a dangerous criminal to different locations. Will our clumsy, funny and chaotic heroes succeed? They may not be effective agents, but for sure they are special ones: their expertise is maintaining the public disorder at all costs!


Street theater at its best: acrobatic virtuosity, circus comedy and the overwhelming ability to leave us speechless (or laughing!). NANIROSSI shows us their pure and strong identity, presenting a show “tout public” that creates community, amazement and a light warming feeling of happiness.

Live Code Your Music - Workshop
15. Jan. 2021 | Shankra Sri Lanka

Let’s explore the musical journey of Lizzie Wilson, introducing her workshop at Shankra Festival Sri Lanka 2022: 

Live code your music using TidalCycles 

“Live coding is an innovative and compelling new way of making music. It allows you to create patterns of music through computer code, describing sequences and ways of transforming and combining them. As algorithms become more a prevalent feature in our society, the practice of live coding challenges how we use them for human benefit. 

This hands-on workshop on making algorithmic patterns with the open source live coding environment TidalCycles will provide an introduction to making music with code and is open to anyone regardless of programming experience or musical knowledge.”  

Please note

Install the software in advance of the workshop (see Installation Guide).

If you have any issues with the installation, you can get help in the forum or you can access a limited version of the software online on the day.  


Lizzie Wilson is an interdisciplinary artist and PhD researcher whose interests include live computer music, musical artificial intelligence, and human-machine co-collaboration. She has performed live computer music as digital selves at various events internationally. Her current work looks at creating musical expression from automation and algorithmic pattern. Some recent works include collaborations with the BBC’s research and development department, hosting feminist hackathons with Leeds International Festival and running live coding workshops with the V&A and Music Hackspace.  

Instagram: @dgtlselves

Image Credits: Antonio Roberts 

Shankra Festival