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On the tenth anniversary of the Tsunami on December 26, 2014, Sri Lankan newspapers highlighted the issues that still prevail in Peraliya and other tsunami affected regions in Sri Lanka such as unresolved housing problems, displacement from homes near the ocean, poor infrastructure, and loss of livelihood (Hussain, December 26, 2014, p. AA1), and at the same time commemorated “the resilience of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who rose from the debris and the carnage, picked up the pieces and soldiered on amidst the tears and the pain” (Editorial, Sunday Times, December 21, 2014, p. 12). A parent who is still looking for his missing 8 year old daughter said: “It’s not that my sadness has lessened but that my strength to face the sadness has increased” (Hettiarachchi, 2014, p. 6). The 2004 South Asian tsunami provided an opportunity to investigate the effects of ‘uniquely Asian’ socio-cultural factors on the psychosocial responses to natural disasters. We define culture as the shared beliefs, values, customs, patterns of thinking, and ways of communication that structure the behavior patterns of a group of people within a particular environment. Sri Lanka is a country with ancient traditions and practices shaped by religions, primarily Theravada Buddhism. Since it was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C., Buddhism has been seamlessly integrated into many people’s daily lives. Buddhist philosophy has offered people an intellectual framework to interpret events such as death and loss of property.


Paper presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research, Portland, Oregon.

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Culture, coping, qualitative study, tsunami, Sri Lanka



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