Is Weweldeniya cane city losing its glamour?
Weweldeniya is considered the 'cane city' in Sri Lanka. It is about
40km from Colombo on the Colombo - Kandy road. Weweldeniya was earlier
known as Radawadunna, which was famous for cane furniture and
handicraft. Most craftsmen were self- employed.
Cane furniture, wedding cake boxes, baskets, table mats and hamper
baskets are some of the popular products produced in Weweldeniya. These
skilled craftsmen created unique items. Many tourists bought these
traditional handicraft products as souvenirs on their way to Kandy.
But sadly this is not so today as the people in Weweldeniya are
battling for survival due to a shortage of raw materials.
About 10 years ago, the entire village was engaged in the cane
industry. It was crowded with many cane shops and workshops on the
Colombo-Kandy road. In the afternoons it was full of people buying cane
products. Many vehicles were parked while the cane workshops sometimes
worked throughout the night.
Unfortunately, today only a few shops are open. There are a very few
buyers and on some
days there are no customers at all. The cane society
is gradually dwindling and people are leaving the old industrial village
and craftsmanship for better prospects elsewhere.
However, it is still a nice place to visit and learn about the
handicraft industry as there are a few shops still functioning. The cane
industry is slack due to a short supply of raw cane, the economic
conditions of people and mainly due to the import of finished cane
Some people engaged in this trade as it had been passed on to them by
their parents and they had learnt the trade from them.