Mirror Magazine


Pic by Mettasena


Buddhism and nature linked
By Chamintha Thilakarathna
It's not the usual tissue but Habarala leaves forming a delicate tracery of green and white. Although lanterns come up practically in every street corner and pandals decorate most major junctions come Vesak, how often do we get to see lanterns made exclusively from locally found raw materials?

The Vesak lantern made by Kadupitige Indradeepa Yogachandra, 24, is quite unique. It has a shape of its own that is a mixture of squares, rectangles and hexagons. No matter how long one looks at it, it continues to fascinate.

Made all of locally found raw material, the lantern has 'habarala' leaves,' 'matalu', 'nava patta', coconut leaves, cane, wood, ola leaves, ropes etc. The 'habarala' leaves make up the larger part of the lantern giving it the feel of nature as the pattern on the leaves is brought out beautifully once it is lit up. The ola leaves make up the traditional carvings on the edges of the lantern while the rest of the items are so well integrated, that one barely identifies the material individually unless pointed out.

"We wanted to do something different, something that no one has done before," says designer and head craftsman of the lantern, Indradeepa. His idea is to symbolise the close link between nature and Buddhism. "We don't use artificial colours, instead whatever colours are found in the material used are enhanced to bring out the effect," he explained.

With some 1500 habarala leaves, 60-70 ropes, 300 odd ola leaves, and 82 bulbs, the team of craftsmen have gone into much trouble to build as well as find the materials.

"It was not easy. We brought items from many parts of the country for this," they said. Indradeepa's university friends, neighbours, relatives and family members are all involved in building this massive lantern which has taken them over a month to construct. "Everyone has been working hard over night to complete it on time," he said.

Indradeepa and his father, Mr. Ariyaratne Yogachandra have participated and won several competitions before. Among their achievements are second place at the 1998 Lake House Vesak lantern competition, first place in the same competition in 1999, and second place in the National Vesak Ulela at Town Hall in 1999 and second place at the Lake House competition in 2000. They also received a special award at the National Vesak Ulela in 2000. Last year, he came third in the Poson lantern competition in Mihintale and second at the Prince of Wales competition held at the premises.

The lantern will be displayed in front of the Citibank office in Colombo as they are sponsoring this environmentally friendly lantern. It will be inaugurated by Mr. A. S Jayawardene, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka on May 26 at 6 p.m. at the premises and will be displayed during Vesak.

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