Tantalising sweetmeats and delicacies
A spread of sweetmeats
The little ones watch eagerly while a sweetmeat takes shape
The Sinhala and Hindu New Year which falls during the month of April
every year is considered as the only national festival, celebrated by
majority Sri Lankans at one auspicious times. According to the almanac,
the New Year dawns with the sun moving from Meena (pisces) to Mesha (aries).
Although the New Year is celebrated mainly by Sinhalese and Hindus,
people of other communities too celebrate it to a certain extent by
taking part in New Year traditional games which can be commonly seen in
villages during this period.
The Sri Lanka Tourism says that unlike during other festive seasons,
there is a significant increase of foreign travellers to Sri Lanka from
Western countries during New Year periods. Many of them visiting the
island with the intention of viewing New Year celebrations in villages.
The foreign travellers also take part in traditional games .
The Sunday Observer last week visited several villages in the down
South and in the Western Province to see how the village folk,
especially women, get ready to celebrate the forthcoming season that
begins from tomorrow (April 7).
Although the Sinhala and Hindu New Year is four days ahead, many
village women have already started making sweetmeats such as Kavum (oil
cakes), Kokis , asmi, kaludodol, pani valalu (honey rings) and athirasa.
Among these sweetmeat items, kavum and kokis are the two main
varities of sweetmeat people like. The village women say although asmi
is a tasty item, making them is very difficult and a time consuming job.
The village women say that they make two varieties of kiribath (milk
rice) on the New Year day. They are Mun kiribath and Imbul kiribath. The
village women make varieties of kavum. Some of them are Konda kavum,
Seeni kavum, undu kavum, mun kavum.
Most women say that they start preparing sweetmeat at least ten days
prior to the new year. They usually make them not for their consumption
but for business purposes. It was common to see some women making
sweetmeats under cadjan sheds at Hikkaduwa area. Many people, including
foreigners come there to buy fresh sweetmeat.
A resident of Walapala in the Kalutara District and a large scale
sweetmeat manufacturer Noris Perera said he has been in the sweetmeat
manufacturing industry during the past 30 years and he makes them not
only for the new year, but also during other festive seasons such as
January 1, Christmas, Ramazan, Thaipongal.
He said in addition he receives orders for birthdays, official
functions, house warming ceremonies, foundation stone laying ceremonies
and school functions.
"There is a great demand for sweetmeat from star class hotels in
Colombo, super markets and also from guest houses during new year and
other festive seasons,"
He said his wife and daughter help him to prepare sweetmeats and when
there are big orders during other festive seasons he gets the support of
a few others to make large quantities of sweetmeats.
He also said a Sri Lankan citizen who resides in England had got down
some sweetmeats made by him from a friend. As he was delighted with the
taste of the sweetmeat he contacted us over the phone, he later sent
money for us to construct our house.
A resident of Kalutara, 64-year old Kamalawathi Gunasinghe said she
has been in the sweetmeat manufacturing business for the past 30 years
and she needs financial assistance to expand the industry,".
She said she sells her products at her own place and also visits
homes to prepare sweetmeats.
"Although, I want to expand the business, I am not in a position to
buy equipment. Therefore I appeal authorities to look into this matter
in a positive way,".
She requested the village Divisional Secretariat to set up a special
centre for the benefit of self-employment people.
A 56-year old L.R. Sumanalatha of Kosgama said she earns a large
amount of money by making sweetmeats during festive seasons and other
She said she even receives orders from functions in Kalutara. She
also proposes authorities to grant them with bank loans to expand their
A large scale sweetmeat manufacturer and a resident of Halmulla
Village in Payagala, Sunil Shantha said he has been in the business for
the past 25 years.
"I use high quality jaggery to make sweetmeats and the products are a
little expensive. I earn a monthly income of nearly Rs. 57, 000. During
the New Year season I earn about Rs. 90,000 a month,"
He said he also supplies sweetmeats to tourist hotels in Mt. Lavinia
and Kollupitiya. He proposes the Sri Lanka Tourism to help sweeetmeat
manufacturers to sell their products at leading hotels in Colombo. He
said a crew of a foreign ship one day visited his place and bought a
large quantity of sweetmeats worth over Rs. 50,000.
A sweetmeat maker D.R. Padma of Ambalangoda said she makes sweetmeats
only during the New Year season and earns about Rs. 75,000.
She said foreign nationals relish our sweetmeats. She suggests the
Government to establish a sales centre at the Katunayaka Airport to
enable poor sweetmeat manufacturers to sell their products. A sweetmeat
manufacturer Kusuma Priyanthi said she has been in the business for the
past 30 years. "My products are a little expensive, as I use high
quality jiggery and treacle to make kavum and Athirasa.
I start making sweetmeats on April 11 and I make only for people in
our area," She said in addition she makes them for special functions,
such as birthday parties, alms-givings etc.
She also proposes that the Ministry of Small Industries to conduct a
fair during festive seasons for the benefit of sweetmeat sellers to sell
their products under one roof.