Recent incidents have fuelled tension between the two religious communities, but leaders work to restore the harmony that existed for years.
With tensions high following a spate of attacks on mosques across Sri Lanka, religious and civil leaders are joining hands to ease hostilities between Buddhist and Muslim communities.
For years, the two groups lived together amicably, respecting each other's cultures and values. But relations have soured recently as hard-line Sinhalese nationalist groups like Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and Sinhala Ravaya drum up hostile sentiment against the country's minorities.
On August 10th, a day after Muslims celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr, a mob armed with stones and rods vandalised a mosque in Colombo's Grandpass area, demanding its immediate closure. Monks were seen among the rioters, despite Buddhist teachings against anger, aggression and violence.
But many of the majority Buddhist community do not share the hard liners' views.
"As a Buddhist, I am ashamed by the attacks against the Muslims perpetrated by people from my own community," one local resident who identified herself as Tillekeratne, told Khabar South Asia.
"I think the government should immediately put in place a zero-tolerance policy to ensure such incidents don't recur," she said.
Compromise reached over mosque issue
Religious and civil leaders, meanwhile, have stepped in to calm the atmosphere and work out a solution to disputes that have inflamed emotions.
On August 12th, the Sri Lanka Muslim Council said it agreed to close the newly-built Grandpass mosque and move to an older site which had been slated for demolition under a city development plan.
For their part, Buddhist representatives agreed to cut down a sacred Bodhi tree that stood in the way of the old mosque's expansion. That will allow the mosque to accommodate all devotees.
The tree, typically a type of fig, is considered holy in Buddhism. According to tradition, it was under such a tree that Siddartha Gautama attained enlightenment.
"This is a welcome move," Sri Lanka Muslim Council President M.N. Amin told Khabar.
However, Ameen emphasised authorities should devise a mechanism to proactively solve such problems.
"If the police acted more responsibly, then this problem would not have gotten out of hand," he said. "We are hoping such unfortunate incidents won't happen again."
The Citizens for a Secure Sri Lanka and the Citizens Advisory Bureau– both networks of concerned individuals of all ethnicities and religions– established a hotline so the public can report any religious or racial incidents.
Citizens for a Secure Sri Lanka Co-Convener Visakha Tillekeratne told Khabar the hotline will act as a watchdog. "We hope to keep tabs on the police to ensure they work impartially," she said, adding that if alerted of any incident, the citizens would work to prevent escalation.
Government must do more
Publisher and accountant M.D.M. Rizvie believes if the government could tame the Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) insurgency, it should be able to control hard-line groups.
"The government should take tough action," he said, "but the problem is that they are not taking action. Therefore this problem is spiralling."
Rizvie said the series of meetings following recent incidents were good and important moves to help educate both communities to not fall prey to people with vested interests.
Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told Khabar relevant law enforcement authorities have received strict instructions to take all steps possible against such incidents from recurring.
However, he said, there are times when things can go beyond even law enforcement's control. "Such incidents are happening all over the world and it's beyond everyone's control sometimes. We are making every effort possible to ensure we are able to control such incidents in the future," he said.
Government discussions are being held to calm tensions and reinforce unity, he said.
"This is not easy, because there are some groups who instigate such incidents because they enjoy violence." Rambukwella said. "But we are working on controlling it."