Sacred offering by tea producers: Brew that keeps us going since 1867 | Sunday Observer

Sacred offering by tea producers: Brew that keeps us going since 1867

Tea producers wend their way to the Sacred Getabaru Raja Maha Viharaya in Kotapola
Tea producers wend their way to the Sacred Getabaru Raja Maha Viharaya in Kotapola

 The offering of a portion of the first fresh tea produced after the Sinhala and Hindu New Year to the sacred Getabaru Raja Maha Viharaya in Kotapola was held for the first time, last Thursday (11) morning.

The ceremony was organized by the Ceylon Tea Board and other stakeholders, with the participation of a large number of tea producers in the Southern Province.

The offering of the fresh tea started as early as 6 am on a misty morning. After the offering of morning alms, tea producers carried their offerings of fresh tea in a procession from the Matara – Deniyaya main road to the historical Getabaru Raja Maha Viharaya, a two and a half kilometre climb uphill.

Trustees

Minister of Plantation Industries, Naveen Dissanayake was the chief guest at the ceremony, while Minister of Law & Order and Southern Development, Sagala Ratnayake, attended to make his offerings.

The Minister’s family who own the Ratnayake Tea Factory and Estate in Deniyaya, are trustees of the temple.

Speaking to the media after the ceremony Minister Dissanayake said, the offering of the first production of fresh tea after the Sinhala and Hindu New Year to the Getabaru Raja Maha Viharaya will be an annual event.

Minister Dissanayake said, “a large number of people of the area were dependent on the tea industry, and the price of a kilo of fresh green tea leaves which fell below Rs 50 as soon as this government was elected to office has now risen to over Rs100.

We have fulfilled our electoral promises and responsibilities towards the industry. We have to be grateful to Russia and China for purchasing more of our tea which has resulted in the increase in price.

“People who take to the streets in protest when the price of green tea falls make no comment when they receive more than what they expected. I am confident, the price of fresh green tea leaves will reach Rs 150 per kilo during our term in office”.

Asked if he had plans of doing away with chemical fertilizers and weed killers in the tea industry, he said, most of the small tea holders who own small extents of land have reduced the use of chemicals, weed killers and fertilizers, but the owners and the management of large estates are compelled to use them.

He said, he is in the process of discussing the matter with the President and Ven Rathana Thero.

Productivity

Minister Sagala Ratnayake said: “The tea industry has had to face numerous problems.

Inflation in the country was the main cause and it was the responsibility of the government to control the rate of inflation.

“Secondly, we should try to increase productivity and to do this, we must encourage tea growers to replant plantations which are over 20 years old. We also have to think of ways to add value to our produce.

“ I do not recommend the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Increasing the density of plants as recommended, has now resulted in the automatic control of the growth of weeds. The price of tea fluctuates regularly and I believe, the present price will remain stable for some time” he said.

Lord Rajjuru Bandara

A large number of tea producers in the Galle and Matara Districts walked the two and a half kilometre climb to the Getabaru Raja Maha Viharaya in a procession, and offered a portion of the first tea produced in their factories or plantations, after the Sinhala and Hindu New Year, to the Sacred Buddha and the Lord Rajjuru Bandara who is revered as the custodian deity of the area.

The ceremony was organized by the Sri Lanka Tea Board as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations of Ceylon Tea.

The first commercial tea plantation in the country was established in 1867 by James Taylor and since then the industry has expanded, and despite all fluctuations, tea has remained one of our top exports and foreign exchange earners 

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