COLOMBO – Sri Lanka has unveiled the world’s tallest Christmas tree after four months of hard work by hundreds of helpers, in a bid to promote ethnic and religious harmony in the Buddhist-majority island nation.
The 73-meter (238-foot) artificial tree in the country’s capital, Colombo, is 18 meters (59 feet) taller than the current record holder, organizers said.
The tree’s steel-and-wire frame is covered with a plastic net decorated with more than 1 million natural pine cones painted red, gold, green and silver, 600,000 LED bulbs and topped by a 6-meter (20-foot)-tall shining star.
However, the Catholic Church has criticized the $80,000 tree as a ‘waste of money.’ The church suggested that the funds would have been better utilized on helping the poor.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe responded to the criticism by saying the tree was not being built with public money, but with donations from individuals and private firms.
Sri Lanka is home to 1.5 million Catholics. Minority Christian and Muslim communities complain of state-sponsored discrimination, and there are allegations of widespread abuses against minority ethnic Tamils both during and after the war.
The Guinness World Records is yet to confirm if this is indeed the tallest artificial Christmas tree.
Currently, the record is held by a Chinese firm that put up a 55-meter (180-foot) tree-like tower of lights and synthetic foliage, ornaments and lamps in the city of Guangzhou last year.