Sometimes it’s terrible having to explain Sri Lanka to outsiders who know very little (or *shudder* nothing) about our country  – especially if they have no interest in cricket, tea or current affairs. At times like this, it always helps if you have some kind of reference point. Like, you could point to the label on their GAP t-shirt and say: “Look! It says ‘Made in Sri Lanka’! That’s my country! That’s where I’m from!” [Although, people might find it creepy if you did this while he/she was still wearing said t-shirt.]

Anyway, once you manage to point to a world map on your smartphone, show them where Sri Lanka is, and assure them that it is in fact an independent, sovereign nation and not a part of India, it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a few interesting facts about your beloved country… like the war that’s now over, the cricket world cup we once won, etc. etc.

The thing is, these facts are getting a little boring now, even for us [let’s just wait a moment for the cricket fans’ horrified gasps to fade away…] SO we at Roar thought it would be fun to put together a list of other amazing feats achieved by Sri Lankans, both at home and abroad.

As proud Sri Lankans, we can safely say that a complete list of all amazing feats would be too long to include in a single article, so we’ve zeroed in on achievements that made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. Some of these are current world records, while some held the prestigious title for a time. The records span a number of categories, including:

Weddings

Nearly every Sri Lankan has been to a wedding that would have been the talk of the town for months – either because of its sheer grandeur, or the antics of a crazy uncle, or the cost of the bride’s shoes – OR because it broke a world record, for perhaps:

Highest Number of Bridesmaids

This wedding, for a time, held the record for most bridesmaids in attendance. Image credit: dailymail.co.uk

This wedding, for a time, held the record for most bridesmaids in attendance. Image credit: dailymail.co.uk

On November 8, 2013, the wedding of Sri Lankans Nalin and Nisansala, held in Negombo, was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records – for the largest number of bridesmaids to one bride. Nalin and Nisansala’s spectacular wedding was attended by the record breaking 126 bridesmaids, as well as 25 best men, 23 flower girls, 20 page boys – and then First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa.

The newlyweds had managed to summon 30 bridesmaids more than the previous record holders, a Thai couple who had 96 bridesmaids at their wedding.

Unfortunately for Sri Lankans, this record is now held by Tina Ackles of the United States, whose wedding in Florida on April 18 this year was graced by 168 bridesmaids.

Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, and the World’s Largest Wedding Bouquet

...and THIS wedding achieved a total of three records

…and THIS wedding achieved a total of three records

Interestingly, Nalin and Nisansala were not the first Sri Lankans to hold the record for the most bridesmaids at a wedding. In September 2003, when Canadian Christa Rasanayagam married Sri Lankan Suresh Joachim Arulanantham in Ontario, they were accompanied by a then record-breaking number of 79 bridesmaids, aged 1 to 79.

The same wedding also cemented records for the most number of groomsmen (47, ageing  from 2 to 63) and longest wedding bouquet at over 197 feet – this last record remaining unbroken.

Tea

Of course, these really shouldn’t come as any surprise, considering how much we Sri Lankans love our tea. And, as it turns out, all that tea obsession hasn’t been in vain; we are proud world record holders of:

The Largest Cup of Tea

The largest cup of tea ever brewed

The largest cup of tea ever brewed

The largest cup of tea on record is 4,000 litres in volume, and was brewed by the folks at GlaxoSmithKline Beecham (Pvt.) Ltd in Colombo, on October 9, 2010.

The teacup was named the “VIVA” tea cup, and measured 10 feet in height and 8 feet in width. Six 2000 watt heaters and a stirrer powered by motors and generators were required to maintain the temperature of the tea at 75 degrees celsius.

The Largest Tea Party

President Maithripala Sirisena being served the record breaking 32,682nd cup of tea. Image courtesy LBO.com

President Maithripala Sirisena being served the record breaking 32,682nd cup of tea. Image courtesy LBO.com

In August this year, an event held in Kandy served 35,000 cups of tea in an attempt to break the record for the world’s largest tea party, previously held by India, with 32,681 participants.

The event was organised by Sri Lanka Tourism, SriLankan Airlines, the Sri Lanka Tea Board, and Asia Pacific Onboard Tour Agencies. The 32,682nd and 32,683rd cups of tea were served to President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Politics

Never a dull arena in Sri Lankan life. It’s way past time we celebrated making our mark here via not one, but two record-breaking achievements:

Most Cabinet Ministers Appointed by a Government

We owe our thanks to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for this one. Sri Lanka holds the record for most cabinet ministers in one country: 52, all of whom were appointed shortly after Rajapaksa’s first presidential election win in November 2005.

Most Women Prime Ministers

Yes, you read that right. Sri Lanka has had the most number of women prime ministers, at a record-breaking number of  – wait for it  – two.

And, they both belonged to the same family: Sirimavo Bandaranaike (incidentally also the world’s first woman prime minister) and her daughter, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge.

Recreation

Sri Lankans know how to have fun, and break records while at it. Here’s proof from the Guinness Records:

Scrabble

Lakshan Wanniarachchi and Yeshan Jayasuriya at their world record attempt. Image courtesy Daily News

Lakshan Wanniarachchi and Yeshan Jayasuriya at their world record attempt. Image courtesy Daily News

On January 4, 2015, Lakshan Wanniarachchi played Scrabble against 40 opponents in Colombo, earning the Guinness Record for Most Number of Simultaneous Scrabble Opponents.

Wanniarachchi won 31 of the 40 games, and what’s more, this wasn’t the first time he’d achieved a Guinness World Record.

In 2012, Wanniarachchi, along with fellow Scrabble enthusiast Yeshan Jayasuriya, cemented the record for the Highest Scrabble Score in 24 hours by two players. The pair earned a mind-blowing score of 196,525 during a total of 224 games played over 24 hours spanning November 10 – 11.

Greatest Distance Moonwalked

On January 11, 2006, Sri Lankan born Suresh Joachim Arulanantham (in case you’re wondering why the name sounds familiar, scroll up – it’s the same guy who managed to break three records at his wedding) hit the record for the greatest distance moonwalked in 24 hours – 49.252 km (30.60 miles). The feat took place in Ontario, Canada.

It turns out that Arulanantham has in fact attempted – and broken – a number of other Guinness Records, in several different countries.

Totally Random

And then we hold records for the most random, craziest feats imaginable:

Most Concrete Blocks Broken By Head

Today, mention of the name Wasantha de Zoysa only brings to mind the karate champion’s very recent brutal and controversial murder. However, six years ago, his name signified an impressive (and possibly painful) world record. On August 23, 2009, de Zoysa secured the Guinness World Record for breaking the most number of concrete blocks in a single stack (12 concrete blocks) – using his head.

Largest Dental Check Up

This year has clearly been a year of records for Sri Lanka. On March 20, the Signal Team of Unilever Sri Lanka organised what it is currently the largest dental health check ever recorded.

In commemorating World Dental Health Day, Signal teamed up with the Ministries of Health and Education, and the Sri Lanka Dental Association, to provide dental check-ups to 9,334 people. The event, held in Kandy, witnessed 150 qualified dentists carry out dental checks on school children who had been invited to participate, as well as other members of the general public.

Most T-shirts Worn in One Hour

On December 22, 2011, marathon runner Sanath Bandara broke the record for the most number of t-shirts put on in an hour. Apparently having earned the name ‘Guinness Bandara’ for his many previous attempts to enter the Guinness Book via some record breaking feat, Sanath managed to put on 257 t-shirts in one hour at an event organised at Hyde Park in Colombo, finally securing himself a place in the Guinness Book.

So the next time you’re trying to explain Sri Lanka or Sri Lankans to an outsider, don’t hesitate to add the one extra fact: we do, apparently, love to make and break records – regardless of what that may involve.