Steady expansion for Laksala
Haven for local craftmen woos more customers:
Laksala building at Colombo Fort
Customers at Laksala in the Fort
Products for sale
|Pix. by Vipula
A traditional mask manufacturer of Ambalangoda, the 72-year old
Suranimal Rajapaksa said he earns about Rs. 40,000 a month by selling
masks to `Laksala’. He said there is an increase in his monthly income
during the festive season between November and February with the arrival
of tourists to Sri Lanka.
G.H. Podihamine of Mirissa in Matara also related the same story. She
said she earned around Rs. 35,000 a month by selling her home
manufactured `Kolam’ masks to Sri Lanka Handicrafts Board (Laksala) at
Thummulla Junction and the Fort in Colombo.
She also said even local customers visit her small mask factory at
Mirissa to buy various kinds of masks. She said 80 percent of her
products are sold to `Laksala’ and other 20 percent purchased by local
and foreign customers.
“Although, I have regular customers to sell my products, I prefer
Laksala, as this State-owned gift shop always helpsself-employed people
A regular goods supplier, K Nandadasa said he has been in the
business for the past 35 years and manufacturing various items with
bamboo trees and also ekels.
“Laksala is always extending us a helping hand to manufacture
traditional items which foreign tourists like very much,”.
Nandadasa said he generally earns around Rs. 50, 000 a month by
selling his products to Laksala and some tourists hotels.
A handicraft supplier, 69-year old Gamalath of Avissawella highly
commended the service rendered by Laksala for local producers in the
country by purchasing their items.
“The Laksala also encourages us to manufacture more items,”.
When Sunday Observer last week met a number of local craftsmen to ask
about their views on the encouragement extending by Laksala for their
traditional products, they highly commended the service rendered by
Laksala for local craftsmen.
Even during the colonial days kings, queens and also foreigners
commended the Lankan traditional crafts. They paid a large sums of money
to our local craftsmen for goods.
This situation prompted the then Government of Mrs. Sirimavo
Bandaranaike to open a gift shop of traditional items under one roof in
the heart of Colombo. The former Premier was encouraged to open this
gift shop by Mrs. Siva Obesekara and also a former Member of Parliament
Mrs Bandaranaike opened this gift shop on November 5, 1964, at
Millers Building in Colombo-Fort. The opening ceremony was held with the
lighting of the ceremonial oil lamp. Several key Parliamentarians as
well as local and foreigners attended the ceremony.
On the first day the gift shop was named as `Laksala’. It means the
Sala (shop) belonging to Lankans. History reveals that `Laksala’ was
named by the late Ven. Mapalagama Vipulasara Thera. The administration
work of Laksala was done under the guidance of P.H.P. de Silva.
According to statistics, the Laksala building was purchased at Rs.
1.7 million by the then Government in 1964. The tenth anniversary of
Laksala was held at Colombo Art Gallery. Meanwhile the 25th anniversary
was held at the BMICH with an exhibition of traditional products.
In an interview with Sunday Observer, Laksala, Executive Director
(Administration), C.N. Dahanayake said Laksala is always extending a
helping hand to local manufacturers and promote Sri Lankan handicraft.
We have two major centres at Thunmulla Junction in Colombo and at the
Cargills Building in the Fort.
In addition, Laksala branches are established in Galle, Kandy, Nuwara
Eliya, the Airport at Katunayaka, Battaramulla, Molagoda in Kandy,
Waragoda in Kelaniya, Moragalla and Katubedda at Moratuwa.
New Laksala showrooms will be opened at Colombo Museum, Trincomalee
and in Jaffna.
The Laksala is a popular name among foreign tourists. Around 4000
tourists visit Laksala every month to purchase various handicrafts.
Among the Handicrafts various kinds of masks, wooden statues of
persons and animals, mats made of reed, cane products, brass and silver
products, gold plated statues, bronze products, iron products
manufactured by blacksmiths, Wall hangings, Batik clothes are sold at
The goods are provided to Laksala by registered local craftsmen from
all over the country.
Laksala Manager, Devika Kumari said foreigners come for various kinds
of our masks including Daha-ata Sanniya, Makara Muhuna and Gara muhuna.