The team of volunteers who work with the Siddhalepa staff at the Siddhalepa Sri Pada first aid camp
Pilgrims refreshing themselves with a complimentary Lak Peyawa drink
Siddhalepa has strengthened their environment protection drive at Sri Pada this season with a new garbage management initiative. To encourage pilgrims to differentiate and dispose of garbage in an organised manner, the company has placed 10 by 10 iron grilled garbage containers with separate compartments for polythene and plastic, in two locations, Gangulethenna and Seetha Gangula, on the path to the peak.
Over the decades, Siddhalepa has initiated and taken the lead in protecting the environment on the sacred mountain in addition to their first aid camp for pilgrims. The winding steps of the six kilometre climb to the peak of Sri Pada on the Hatton road from Nallathanniya to the Uda Maluwa are dotted with waste bins provided and maintained by Siddhalepa which have proved to be immensely useful to devotees as they dispense of water bottles and other disposables on their journey.
Meanwhile Siddhalepa’s healing hands reach out to the unending stream of pilgrims who pay annual homage to the sacred mountain where the foot imprint of the Lord Buddha enshrines its holy peak.
Siddhalepa treats over 1.5 million devotees climbing to the peak with refreshing bottles of AquaLive during daytime and a warm cup of Lak Peyawa in the night time in their first aid camp in Gangulethenna, about 2.5 km to the peak of the mountain.
In an unbroken tradition of 41 years, a team of Siddhalepa staff supported by a team of volunteers on 24-hour duty, in two shifts, work tirelessly in the camp anointing the foreheads of pilgrims with Siddhalepa balm, protecting them from the icy winds that blow across the mountain as they reach the summit. On their descent, the weary flocks of pilgrims are once again treated for their pains and discomforts with foot, head and shoulder massages by the ministering team. The camp has the capacity to hold about 100 pilgrims at a time.
Pilgrims with minor ailments like swollen feet, joints and those with aches and pains of body and limb are given some relief at the first aid camp by these volunteers.
This year with the dawn of the first Poya, a similar operation begins for those pilgrims who climb to the peak from the two routes on the Ratnapura Road. A location about 3 km away from the peak, called Galvangediya is where Siddhalepa’s second first aid camp will be set up to cater to those pilgrims using the Ratnapura route to reach the peak.
Siddhalepa has also erected the sign boards, direction boards and environment protection boards as well as the garbage management bins to make this less used ascent to the peak as welcoming, and friendly and protected as the more popular Hatton route to the peak.