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Siddhalepa Chairman Dr. Hettigoda conferred honorary doctorate in Literature

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Deshabandu Dr. Victor Hettigoda received the highest accolade of academic honour when he was conferred the title of Doctor of Literature by the Management Faculty of the Sri Jayewardenepura University in recognition of his gigantic contribution to our society in recent times.

The doctorate was presented by the Chancellor of the Jayewardenepura University, Ven. Prof. Bellanwilla Wimalaratne Thero, Chief Priest of the Bellanvila Rajamaha Viharaya, who is also an eminent Buddhist scholar. 

Dr. Hettigoda who celebrated his 80th birthday on 13 September, is a legend in his lifetime and due recognition of his entrepreneurship and celebration of his vision generations ahead of his time, is indeed appropriate and timely.

The young Victor Hettigoda tried his hand at many things from accountancy to journalism before he found his true path in life – the introduction of Ayurveda medicine, a Hettigoda family heritage of over 200 years, to modern life.

His father Dr. Hendrick de Silva Hettigoda, himself an Ayurveda kidney specialist and a famous astrologer, accurately identified his fifth son in a family of nine as the chosen person to take the family heritage forward. He imparted his knowledge of Ayurveda medicine to his son, including the formulae for a special balm Siddhalepa – now a household name and one of the strongest brands in Sri Lanka.

Known today as the ‘Father of Ayurveda’ for his amazing revolution in Ayurveda medicine, it is Dr. Hettigoda’s vision beyond his years and his entrepreneurship – a generation ahead of his time – that gave him this outstanding success in  marketing Ayurveda products and its unparalleled health benefits in a commercial world. 

The Sri Jayawardenepura University’s Management Faculty applied an extensive criteria to evaluate their recipients’ achievements for the doctorate. Thus, the honorary doctorate conferred on him was based on Dr. Hettigoda’s entrepreneurship and outstanding achievements in employment creation, product innovation, marketing strategy, creativity in branding and slogans, and pioneering the corporate social responsibility concept in Sri Lanka. 

In a giant leap in entrepreneurship, using sharp business acumen, he elevated a niche industry confined to Sinhala medicine stores (Sinhala beheth kades) to a thriving business in Ayurveda cosmetics, dental and health products. In a world where consumers were putting their faith on natural/herbal ingredients in their bath and cosmetics products, Dr. Hettigoda challenged and eventually compelled even the FMCGs to add herbal ingredients to their mass produced consumer products.

Good examples are top dental care brands and washing powders which have now added herbal varieties to their range.

He bestowed the signature balm Siddhalepa with an incredibly powerful and infinite branding: “The Vedamahattaya that should be in every home.” 

He expanded his Ayurveda range to herbal products like Vishaka soap, Supirivicky and Kekulu range of toothpastes and dental products which had country-wide distribution and sales from the small wayside boutique to all major supermarkets.

He was also an inspiration to other entrepreneurs who also launched into Ayurveda-based products and medicines and are now his competitors.

His legendary vision and foresight took Siddhalepa’s branding to another level and simultaneously introducing the concept of CSR to Sri Lanka. The best examples of successful branding and CSR is at religious sites like Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak), Kataragama Holy Site, Kandy Esala Perehera, Madhu Festival, Nallur Festival, etc., where the group set up first aid camps to relieve weary devotees with Siddhalepa massages and serve their refreshing herbal hot drink, Lak Peyawa. 

Other activities like branded name board signs, branded litter bins, etc. send out a strong message about the Group’s commitment to keeping the environment clean while emphasising the Siddhalepa brand.

The Siddhalepa Group now has over 15 individual companies and employs over 1,000 workers. The Ayurveda medicine based company is now a big promoter of Ayurveda tourism with its resort in Wadduwa, the newly-opened city hotel Anarva, Mount Lavinia and its spas.

The Siddhalepa Ayurveda Hospital which has a team of expert Ayurveda physicians and professional therapists in their spa is another important aspect of his dedication to Ayurveda medicine and his aspiration that people of this country should get the maximum benefit from his services.

The multi-talented Dr. Hettigoda’s skills include literary talent in oratory and writing. He authored a book titled ‘Welandamen Diyunuweemata Maga’ in 2003 (‘Way to Prosper through Trade’). He has also authored many articles on management, entrepreneurship, leadership, moral values, ethical behaviour and various other topics and published in more than 100 leading newspapers in Sri Lanka.

He has made over 200 public speeches and held lectures in many universities.  

Dr. Hettigoda is also the recipient of a multitude of awards, recognitions and trophies for his achievements in Ayurveda medicine and entrepreneurship and has been featured in many newspapers, magazines and television programs both local and foreign, including CNN, BBC and Reuters. 

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