Some 800,000 LED bulbs sparkled on the 100-metre tree. The man who masterminded the project hopes to break the Guinness World Record. Buddhist organisers and Muslim sponsors hope the tree can create religious and ethnic harmony.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – After a dispute of several weeks, the tallest Christmas tree in the world – 100 metres and 800,000 LED bulbs – was “turned on” in Colombo last night.
Costing nearly six million rupees (US$ 40,000), the tree had prompted criticism from local Catholic Church leaders, who had called it a waste of money. The tree’s Buddhist promoters hoped however that it would help create a climate of religious and ethnic harmony in Sri Lanka.
Complaints notwithstanding, the structure is set to be included in the Guinness World Record as the tallest artificial tree.
"I want to tell the world that Sri Lanka is made of good people and that there should not be divisions among us,” said Mahinda Nanayakkara, the man who masterminded the project, speaking to AsiaNews.
In the predominantly Buddhist country of some 21 million people, Catholics are nearly 1.2 million. Some of them were against the project, including Card Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo. He had questioned the cost, saying that the funds could have been used to fund development projects in the country.
The criticisms delayed the work, set to be completed by 23 December, but eventually it was ready on Christmas Eve, and all the lights went on yesterday.
For his part, Nanayakkara said that the tree was paid entirely with private money from friends and local companies.
The main sponsor was Multilac, a local paint company, which supplied 3,000 litres to paint the tree’s 30 tonnes of pine cones.
"We are Muslims,” said a company official, “but we wanted to support this wonderful initiative promoting unity. Sri Lanka is a small country, but this tree is a source of great pride."
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