Sinha Raja’s jumbo dress: Playing dressmaker to the elephants – By Kamanthi Wickramasinghe
Source : dailymirror
Stitching the dress for Sinha Raja, the sub leader of the elephant troop at the Dalada Maligawa, is a dream come true for Sasanka Alwis Edirisuriya. Sinha Raja is the main elephant that parades the day pageant (peraheral), the final pageant following the completion of five Kumbal and five Randoli pageants. It is during this pageant that the Relics Casket is carried from the Gedige Viharaya back to the Dalada Maligawa.
” Edirisuriya said that many of her school friends who are overseas have been generous enough to donate money in their capacity for her cause; especially during the lockdown period”
“Initially I was employed as a primary school teacher, but I have always had an interest in creative work,”Edirisuriya said in an interview with the Daily Mirror. “I wanted to do dress designing and from being a nursery teacher I started doing saree designing. I had visited the Dalada Maligawa and it was a dream to stitch a dress for an elephant. Subsequently I happened to meet the former General Secretary of the Maligawa and he introduced me to another contact. Initially they asked me to stitch a costume for the main elephant of the second Randoli pageant, but the dress turned out to be too glamorous. Thereafter it was decided that the costume would be used on the main elephant parading the day pageant.
“I stitched the first costume back in 2021 to Sinha Raja, the main elephant of the day pageant. It took me around one year to stitch the first costume as I didn’t have prior experience. But I had a friend who stitched an elephant costume for the first Randoli Pageant and she supported me to get measurements etc. Last year’s costume was done entirely from appliqué and I added stones and other decorative material. But this year I finished it within six months as it was hand-painted and I added all the beads, stones to make it more attractive. I plan to stitch costumes for the day pageant as long as I can,” she continued.
This time I stitched four elephant dresses and it cost me between 12-15 lakhs. With the prevailing economic crisis it is a challenge to purchase beads, stones and other materials since the prices continued to soar. But I like to mention the support extended by shop owners in Pettah”
– Sasanka Alwis Edirisuriya
Speaking about finances, Edirisuriya said that many of her school friends who are overseas have been generous enough to donate money in their capacity especially during the lockdown period. “This time I stitched four elephant dresses and it cost me between 12-15 lakhs. With the prevailing economic crisis it is a challenge to purchase beads, stones and other materials since the prices continued to soar. But I like to mention the support extended by shop owners in Pettah. They have been quite helpful right throughout and they admire the fact that I contribute to the Kandy Esala Perahera,” said Edirisuriya.
“Stitching a 20-30kg costume is not easy and if not for Waruni’s support, Edirisuriya would have been in a tough spot. “Waruni helped me without any expectations and I’m grateful to her for all that she has done. She had much patience throughout the process and helped me in pasting beads and completing the costume,” added Edirisuriya. She thanked her husband for arranging the workshop premises where she initially designed sarees and was later used to design elephant costumes. “I feel it is a blessing to get an opportunity to stitch a dress for an elephant. I was heavily invested in completing the costume that I sometimes missed household chores. But my husband and two sons supported me in every way possible and I’m ever so grateful to them. I would like to mention C. W Karunaratne, former Secretary General of Sri Dalada Maligawa, Pradeep Miyanapalawa and my dear friend Minoka Ruwanpathirana for placing their trust in me and giving me an opportunity to make a dream come true,” concluded Edirisuriya.