Sri Lankan lantern makers feel the pinch from Chinese rivals

May 5, 2012 (LBO) – They are round in shape, colourful, sturdy, covered with cloth, with a little Buddhist flag competing for attention among pictures of pretty flowers. Chinese lanterns have slipped into Sri Lanka’s Vesak market threatening to dislodge the traditional paper lanterns.

Colourful Tradition

Colourful hexagon lanterns in many homes and places of businesses in Sri Lanka during the Vesak season that falls in May. Vesak, the most important day in the Buddhist calendar, marks the birth, death and enlightenment of Lord Buddha.

Strips of bamboo form the frame of a basic lantern, which is then covered with sheets of colourful thin paper. Lanterns come in all shapes and sizes.

The intricate ones, are designed to have between six to 18-sides on a single lantern, while others are shaped like a lotus flower.

Lanterns are lit by either a small electric bulb or a candle.

“Traditional lanterns made out of bamboo stick are rare to find,” says Vineetha Kumari, 34, browsing through a makeshift lantern stall in Colombo. “Now it’s cheaper to buy plastic Chinese lanterns, they can be put away for later use.”

May, is a tradition