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The many faces of betel leaf



by Randima Attygalle

A motif of prosperity, new beginnings and goodwill, the betel leaf interlaces the multi-cultural Sri Lankan society. Bulath in Sinhalese and Vettilai in Tamil, this glossy heart-shaped leaf of cultural and religious connotations, is an ‘evergreen presence’ at many a moment of Lankan lives. Among the 40 leaves of the standard betel sheaf or bulath hurulla lie a sense of welcome, reverence, renewed family ties, forgiveness and blessings.

Be it the first glimpse of a future wife-to-be over a bulath heppuwa (betel tray) offered by her, a mark of respect to village weda mahattaya, invoking the blessings of a parent, teacher or an elder, first business transaction for the new year, deheth watti offered to the priests, customs at weddings, rituals at the temple or kovil, betel is ubiquitous.

Legend has it that the betel leaf originated in the mythical land of nagas and was brought to the world of humans by a cobra or a nagaya holding the leaf by its tip. This belief renders it the name nagavalli or snake creeper in Telegu. Interestingly, betel chewers discard the tip and the stalk of the leaf before they chew it. This evergreen climber is believed to have been introduced to us and other South Asian countries by the Chinese and Arab merchants who brought it from Malaysia and the surrounding East Asian region.

Apart from its significance in religious canon including jataka stories, betel is mentioned in historical sources such as Mahabharatha, Mahavansa and Ramayana, says Senarath Wickramasinghe, Deputy Director (Cultural), Department of National Museums. Stone inscription in Mihintale, according to Wickramasinghe, is one of the earliest historical sources of ours which alludes to betel by its reference to deheth offered to the priests. “Sharing of betel and its accompanying condiments of dried tobacco, slake lime or chunam and arecanut for a chew remains a cultural expression of friendship and brotherhood in traditional Sri Lankan social life,” says Wickramasinghe. A carefully arranged betel tray along with these condiments in the open verandah of a village home is an invitation to any visitor to have a chew. Today it is a diminishing sight and the other essentials once associated with betel chewing have become things of the past.

The betel bags (bulath malu), chunam boxes (hunu killotaya), betel tray (hepppuwa) and arecanut slicer (giraya) were elaborately designed reflecting the skill of the ancient Sri Lankan artisan. “While chunam boxes from Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods have been found, the oldest betel bags intricately embroidered, date back to the Kandyan period,” says the Museum official who goes onto note that while the nobility used betel trays cast in bronze or brass, the ordinary folk used a tray made out of reed called ‘kooru adiya.’ The chunam boxes found either in copper or brass were also ornamented. The giraya often made in brass was embellished with native fauna and flora patterns. Its head was designed in various shapes including that of a woman in a greeting position.

The royals and aristocrats had their attendants carrying their betel related paraphernalia including the spittoon (padikkama) and the betel pounder or bulath wangediya. The colonial historians too record this local indulgence in their work. The water colour painting of the betel leaf by the Dutch painter Jan Brandes in his work, The World of Jan Brandes 1743-1808 and the illustration of a local Catholic woman going to church accompanied by a maid carrying a betel box and a spittoon in Illustrations and views of Dutch Ceylon 1602-1796 are among these records.

More than an indulgence, betel is today one of our major exports, Pakistan being the largest importer. Middle East, Canada, USA, Japan, UK, Australia, Norway and Germany are among the other leading importers. The other major betel growing countries are India, Thailand and Bangladesh.

“Even though the betel leaves contain different types of important chemicals, no value added betel products are reported from any of these importing countries. Almost all the countries import betel for chewing purposes as there is a considerable immigrant population of betel chewers in them,” says Dr. H.M.P.A Subasinghe, Director (Research), Inter-cropping and Betel Research Station, Department of Export Agriculture (DEA). The betel quid, as Subasinghe further explains is of different types with condiments which accompany it varying from country to country. The betel quid has regional differences as well he says. Cloves and cardamom are sometimes added to the quid of tobacco with lime and arecanut.

While betel is grown across the island, the export quality crop of thick dark green known as Kalu bulath is found in Kurunegala, Gampaha, Kegalle, Kalutara and Colombo districts. Different cultivars are grown by farmers including Mahamaneru, Kudamaneru, Ratadalu, Galdalu and Gatathodu. For commercial purposes, Mahamaneru and Ratadalu are the most commonly grown. The Inter-cropping and Betel Research Station of the DEA, through a series of plant breeding programmes, had released two high yielding varieties with high quality parameters named Naram mali and Naram rathi.

Betel Leaf Blight (BLB) disease is the most feared in betel cultivation. “This could destroy an entire cultivation within a few weeks,” explains Subasinghe who notes that research is in progress to evaluate different traditional treatments used by farmers to fight the disease.

Several value-added betel products have already been located by the Betel Research Station, its Director said. Betel flavoured sweets, betel oil, mosquito repellents, sticks and creams, betel mixed shampoo, betel mixed herbal tea and a betel drink are among them. Research is also underway to develop toothpaste, mouthwash, face cream, anti-tick lotion, anti-tick powder, wound healing creams, cold drinks, chocolates, incense sticks, appetizers, digestive agents and tonics. “These value added products can boost the marketability of betel and create new prospects in the industry,” notes Subasinghe.

Betel is also rich in medicinal properties. The potential for betel-based anti-diabetic and gastro protective drugs are many says the scientist. “Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoan properties of betel can kill or inhibit some bacteria which cause diseases such as typhoid, cholera and tuberculosis. Its antioxidant properties have a cancer preventive effect. Research has also revealed that betel oil is rich in healing properties. Betel leaves can also prevent indigestion, bronchitis, constipation, congestion, coughs and asthma.”


(Pic credit Department of Export Agriculture and Department of National Museums)

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The Boss Up Story



Boss Up isn’t merely a brand name. It’s a manifestation of resilience and inner power in the form of a branding and social media marketing agency. Hafsa Killru, the Founder of Boss Up has a personal story and determination to ‘boss up’ that propelled her to launch her own venture to empower entrepreneurship, especially among small businesses.


The environment one grows up in has a remarkable effect on a young child’s mind. Watching two strong women in the family redefine the role of feminine power, a young Hafsa grew up ambitious too. Although brimming with the desire to create a change, her childhood was fraught with challenges that plague many children today – bullying. She was subject to severe bullying since the tender age of 10 at her places of education, which affected both her mental and physical health.

“I never fit in anywhere. I was never welcome among the cliques. But I didn’t let it affect my confidence. Keeping my circle small helped me stay focused on my studies. I’d spend this time alone in school libraries, often reading encyclopedias,” says Hafsa. “The bullying worsened in my teenage years. I was lonely but it worked out in my favour because I was never, and still not, someone who worries about ‘what will others say’ — a key obstacle in many people’s lives. Not having many friends meant I was not under peer pressure. This allowed me to be my authentic self.”

Hafsa’s writing career began quite unexpectedly when she was 17. Not only is she a content writer but also a poet who writes evocatively about mental health, healing and empowerment. But this didn’t come by easily either.

During her higher studies, those she considered to be her friends tried to crush her growth mindset, which eventually took a toll on her. It was only when she managed to remove herself from such environments did she become more self-aware and regain her confidence, thanks to the solitude it brought into her life.Yet again, a new set of obstacles awaited her in her early 20s. In 2019, she was turned down by over 20 companies within three months alone, which led to deep frustration and self-doubt. Although she had freelancing opportunities, the lockdown only added to her troubles.

But that’s when something clicked into place – an idea so obvious, so big and so right for her that Hafsa knew it was what all these adversities were pushing her towards. She realised the lockdown was putting undue pressure on businesses and it needed a solution. Especially small businesses were struggling to go online and create a sustainable brand, and that too at an affordable rate. How could they compete with incumbent brands with massive budgets and breakthrough technologies? She sought to give them the edge they needed and thus, Boss Up was born in October 2020.

“Inviting change, taking charge of the situation and choosing to do something on my own has to be, although scary, the most liberating decision I have ever made,” admits Hafsa. “The lockdown wasn’t the time for businesses to go silent. They needed business and marketing solutions that would help them overcome the situation.”

In today’s contemporary business world, a business of any size will only be running a losing race if it hasn’t developed a strong social media presence or a clear brand strategy. Hence, Boss Up ensures equal opportunities are given to entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

One and a half years into the business, Boss up is now global with its wings spread across countries like the UK, Canada, Dubai, Qatar, the Maldives and Australia, and is backed by a strong team of young and passionate minds.

The Purpose

Boss Up’s primary goal is to uplift entrepreneurs. The brand is also a strong advocate for inner power, confidence and resilience — the three main driving forces of ambition. It intends to help people who hail from struggling backgrounds; the ones who are inundated with a lack of support, seek self-sufficiency and are hungry to design a unique identity for themselves.The brand also strives to treat everyone at work with compassion and empathy whilst leading with kindness as it is crucial to reform work cultures that are hazardous to oneself.

Reach out to HAfsa via Instagram @hafsa_killru @bossup_srilanka or email

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The Switch of Trend in Fashion After the Pandemic 2022



There has been an immense change in the Industry of Fashion after the pandemic struck us all hard. Currently, the trends of fashion have also taken a big turn towards affordable fashion trending styles and outfits. The Fashion boom has grown to become steadily slow for the seasonal styles and basic needs of clothing as well.

The current scenario of fashion life is always at a peak, and even after the Covid-19 pandemic, we have still seen slow growth in the need for fashion. There are of course certain aspects that have affected the industry and declined surplus. However, fashion and clothing have become a BASIC need for humans across the globe.

From shopping high-end couture to higher brand apparel, the trend has shifted to move on to sustainable clothing and organic clothing pieces. For example, we have become more aware of locally produced clothing brands and organic fabrics of our country. Made in India clothing and brands are emerging at a higher graph.Let’s take a look at the Current Change in Fashion Trends due to Pandemic 2022

Sustainable Outfits After the Pandemic

This is something most have been finding a basic need in clothing. Spending over and over again on the same kinds of clothing has and will reduce in the future. Buying clothing and fashion pieces that last for longer is the key to saving more than before. Buying pieces like basic Tees, Pants which may be styled over and over again is what the trend is shifting towards.

Budget Range of Fashion Brands are Accepted higher

Since the ban of Rowme and Shein-like brands and online websites in India, other national brands have started to make affordable fashion pieces for their customers. Styles and trends of fashion in the budget are what the people will be looking out for since the economic growth of people has dropped. Investing in fashion will never end until there will be a supply, the only difference is the budget range brands have a huge change of acceptance now since the pandemic.

Change of Styles worn to Work or Office Fashion after the Pandemic

Since the depression, people may have just stopped feeling happier may want to take the effort to dress like before. Styles of fashion in a simple and classy fashion will emerge largely than before. Choosing Plains or Solids overprints and pattern or neutrals over new trending colors and the print patterns is being seen for workwear fashion.

Change of Trends and Styles for Indian Festival Wear after the Pandemic

In the same way as the above point mentions, dressing special occasions will take a shift. Looking at the financial conditions currently, customers will be buying lesser for Festive wear than before. Styling the same pieces with a change of new additions of budget festive wear will be trending. Sarees and salwar suits in silks, choosing cotton, and linen kurta sets over the designer trends are to be seen this year during Indian festivals.

Choosing Budget Wedding Wear Over Designer Wedding Wear

When it comes to weddings, the cost goes to the highest for any customer. But the pandemic has changed how weddings will be taking place. The cost of weddings has declined drastically and shopping for Indian weddings has grown to choose mid-range wedding wear over high-end designer wear. Saving more during weddings, styles of lehengas, sarees, shalwar suits, or sherwanis for weddings that are in mid-range is a new trend.

From styling men’s kurta suits styles for the basic function of weddings to choosing classic or budget range sarees and suits for the bride’s ceremonies will take up a new fashion trend look. Making a choice of ONE heavy wear Lehenga and Sherwani may be what the soon-to-wed couples be looking for.Designer wear which can be restyled or reused and worn for other occasions and weddings is also a trend to grow rapidly. Saving much more for the bridal and groom’s outfit looks.

Shopping Online Increased for clothing after the Pandemic

The safer way to buy clothing has become a focus for all customers going towards online shopping. The percentage of online buyers has rapidly increased for clothes after the pandemic. From casual wear shopping online to fashion shopping for festivals and weddings, all have become much easier and more convenient for consumers.

Websites and businesses are working to grow even wider with Online Shopping. Connecting with customers personally for their shopping experiences to taking a new addition in budget clothing varieties for the customers is what’s taking place.

Online shopping has become a trend We have set an all-new trend for our customers It brings more trust and safety to customers. Shopping for wedding wear online only gets comfortable for all when sitting back home and shopping Fashion Shopping after the Pandemic via on-line shooping is what keeps all customers happier.

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Life style

Captivating streetwear for today’s fashionable girls



The latest street fashion brand Girls by Dillys under the umbrella of Dilly’s was launched recently introducing trending new pieces to help girls carry the distinct personality and style to be the fashionable girl of today.

Girl by Dilly’s is a creative street fashion brand that focuses on vibrant colors, textures, and prints to bring out the youthful exuberance of today’s girls. The brand has emphasized on contrasting color combinations. The ethos of this brand is creativity and having fun. Girl by Dilly’s is dedicated to the free-spirited girls who have their own super powers and a bold attitude. Girls are encouraged to mix and create unique styles to introduce their own identity in a creative and playful way.

This brand is the new lifestyle for confident girls who love to enjoy freedom, youth and individuality. The brand has different style combinations from casual to evening wear to make the overall look fashionable and completely their own. The brand tagline ‘All about a Girl’ is a reminder to every girl that she is unique and beautiful.

To ensure glam and comfort, all Girl by Dilly’s products are crafted using quality fabrics and technical know-how. The brand offers a wide range of stylish ready-to-wear pieces, from tops, skirts, pants, shorts, dresses, rompers, jump suits, crop tops, and t-shirts. The brand has introduced batik into the collection with a fabulous finishing touch to elevate its signature styles. The brand is also introducing a comfortable t-shirt collection with inspirational slogans and line art to share a positive message with society.

Dilani Wijeyesekera – Director of Girl by Dilly’s stated, “We became aware of a notable gap in today’s market for fashionable streetwear clothing for girls. Today’s new generation of girls have a different youthful energy about them. They are fun, bold, carefree and energetic and they want the whole world to see that. Girl by Dilly’s is perfect for such girls as it helps them find their own identity through our collection of vibrant colours and creative styles that they can mix and match to come up with eye-catching outfits. Every piece of Girl by Dilly’s has the look and feel of fun and vibrancy.”

With the launch, Girl by Dilly’s is providing an introductory offer to all loyalty customers where they can avail themselves to a 15% discount on all products until 7th August 2022, both on online and at the flagship store. A selection of special giveaways has also been lined up in the coming weeks for all social media followers.

For the latest Girl by Dilly’s updates and new releases, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok using @dillyandcarlo. The latest Girl by Dilly’s collections are available at the Flagship Store on the website

Dilly’s was established in 1987 to cater to Colombo’s desire for high-end designer wear with a local twist. As the company grew, Dilly’s introduced its second brand to the market, this time to cater to menswear. Carlo was established in 2007 and exemplified stylish men’s clothing for all ages. The brand is housing its distinct designer ranges to cater to the entire wardrobe requirement of modern men and women.

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