“One Culture – Many Perspectives”. Understanding Cultural Diversity Through Rural Livelhioods. A Reflection from the Rural Craft Communities in Kandy, Sri Lanka

There is no universally accepted definition for the concept of culture. Culture should be understood as a specific and unique phenomenon that affirms community’s identity and diversity. Judging one culture by the values of another, over-simplifies the distinctiveness and the wealth of a particular culture. Recognising, understanding and respecting dynamics of cultural norms, and defending and expanding cultural freedom are crucial in assuring secure and sustainable well-being of any community. This paper investigates different perspectives of culture by referring to everyday livelihood activities of rural communities that engage in traditional craft industries in the Kandyan region, Sri Lanka. In a livelihood perspective, culture is defined as a structure, function, product and identity, through its influence on everyday lives of people, and accordingly people’s engagement with and uses of culture. Culture is multifaceted and extremely diverse entity that varies from place to place and person to person. The strengths of cultural diversity should be respected and accepted by mainstream society, if any initiative is to be truly about satisfying human desires.