I read sometime ago that a woman with a Buddha tattoo was deported from Sri Lanka.

Is it illegal because it's a Buddha image? Or other symbols like the dharma wheel are not allowed as tattoo as well?

What about tattoo images that resemble these symbols (e.g. a meditating person or a circle with eight spikes representing the Noble Eightfold Path)?


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2 Answers 2


I'm a Sri Lankan dear user. As I know It's is not unlawful. But it can be considered as a disrespectful thing or as an insulting to Buddhist religion in Sri Lanka.

The problem was tattoos were not familiar in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankans aka 'Theravada Buddhists' believe that things related to the blessed one (the supreme Buddha) shouldn't be in our body as a tattoo, and shouldn't even be in our bed rooms (where we may do disrespectful things in front of the blessed one. But all of these are not laws just the tradition.

In the case you mentioned, that women had a tattoo of thw blessed one I guess. Some people misunderstood it as that women was trying to insult Buddhist. But she was released immediately.

Sri Lanka doesn't have tough laws related to religion. It's very kind hearted society. So if you are going to visit Sri Lanka just cover those tattoos and then people won't misunderstand you. And kindly explain that you are not insulting Buddhists and It's just a tradition in your country. May the triple gem bless you!


I am not sure about the Law. But in Sri Lankan culture tattoos are quite looked down upon. As a result when you have a tattoo of Buddha it is considered as disrespecting Buddha.

But as long as the tattoo is not exposed (covered with clothes) while you are in public places, you are fine. Most probably air port will be the only place that you get directly in trouble with law enforcement with related to a tattoo.

As far as what symbols get you in trouble, I think anything that can be interpreted as a Buddha would do.


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