Siddhalepa’s service to Sri Pada pilgrims marks 40 years | Sunday Observer

Siddhalepa’s service to Sri Pada pilgrims marks 40 years

The ‘Siddhalepa on Duty’ team in action
The ‘Siddhalepa on Duty’ team in action

With the commencement of the Sri Pada season on Unduwap Poya, December 3, Siddhalepa (Hettigoda Group) marks the 40th year of service to devotees trekking up the sacred mountain of Sri Pada, to pay homage to the sacred foot imprint of the Lord Buddha, which enshrines the peak.

A Siddhalepa team is on duty night and day, throughout the season which ends with Vesak Poya playing a ‘healing role’ to approximately 15 lakhs of pilgrims, facilitating a peaceful and comfortable journey for them on their most sacred pilgrimage to the mountain peak.

Siddhalepa’s service of extending their medical assistance to Sri Pada pilgrims was originated by the founder and Chairman of Siddhalepa (Hettigoda Group) Deshabandu Dr. Victor Hettigoda and over the years has grown into a large scale operation centred around Gangulathenna, about 1 ½ km up the sacred mountain.

A large hall at Gangulathenna which accommodates over 200 pilgrims at a time is a peaceful heaven for weary pilgrims to revive themselves with a warm cup of Lak Peyawa from Siddhalepa and some soothing Siddhalepa balm before they embark on the arduous ascent to the peak.

The Siddhalepa on Duty team annoints the foreheads of pilgrims with the Siddhalepa balm, to protect them from the impact of icy winds that blow across the mountain as they reach the summit. On their descent, after an 10 to 12 hour journey to the peak, the weary pilgrims are again treated for their pains and discomforts with the annointing of Siddhalepa balm on their foreheads, feet and shoulders and a steaming hot cup of Siddhalepa Lakpeyawa.