Sri Lanka claims world′s tallest artificial Christmas tree | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 24.12.2016
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Sri Lanka claims world's tallest artificial Christmas tree

Sri Lanka has claimed the title for the construction of the world's tallest Christmas tree. If confirmed by Guinness World Records, the 73-meter (238-foot) tree would surpass the record set by China by 18 meters.

Marking Christmas Eve on Saturday, the south Asian island of Sri Lanka unveiled a towering synthetic Christmas tree, claiming that it is the world's largest.

The steel-and-wire frame construction was erected in the Galle Face Green in the capital city, Colombo. The oceanside urban park also previously hosted Pope Francis, who held mass there during his visit to Sri Lanka last year.

Covered 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) shining star, the tree cost an estimated $80,000 (76,537 euros). The Catholic Church criticized the tree as a "waste of money" and suggested that the funds could be better spent on helping the poor.

More than 1,000 workers were involved in the project, with construction taking more than three months. Mangala Gunasekara, a spokesman for the organizing committee, said they would seek to claim the Guinness World Record for the tallest artificial Christmas tree.

'Ethnic and religious harmony'

The record is currently held by a Chinese firm which last year constructed a 55-meter (180-foot) tree-like tower of lights and synthetic foliage, baubles and lamps in the southern city of Guangzhou.

Organizers said they wanted the tree to help promote ethnic and religious harmony in the Buddhist-majority South Asian island nation. Of Sri Lanka's  21 million-strong population, around 1.2 million people are Catholic. Nearly 70 percent of Sri Lankans are Buddhist.

Allegations of widespread abuses against minority ethnic Tamils have also been reported both during and after the country's civil war against Tamil rebels.

The tree will remain in place until January 6, which marks the celebration of the Epiphany in the Christian calendar.

ksb/kl (AP, dpa)

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