Leaves have always been a part of Sri Lankan culture. They are used for decorations, for religious purposes, and for healing.
The coconut leaf - Coconut leaves are used at wedding ceremonies. The exterior of the ritual premises is decorated with coconut leaves, informing everyone that there is a wedding. The altar where the couple stands throughout the wedding ritual is decorated with fresh coconut leaves, symbolizing prosperity and fertility.
In the Kohomba Kankariya healing ritual the coconut leaf is used to decorate the ritual premises where the dancing, chanting, and drumming take place.
Kohomba leaf – Herbal pillows are made from Kohomba leaves. Some villagers also sprinkle Kohomba leaves on their bed before going to sleep. The leaves are believed to transmit medicinal value that can seep into the body.
Banana leaf – Lunch packets are wrapped in banana leaf. The banana leaf lends a distinct flavor, fragrance, and aesthetic pleasure to the rice. In some processions live trees are tied along roadsides as a means of offering to the Gods.
Tropical spas use banana leaves to decorate their indoor massage rooms, Yoga centres, and meditation areas. They create a soothing feeling for guests.
Betel leaf - The betel leaf is used in childbirth, marriage, puberty, and funeral rituals. The astrologer is often at times greeted with a sheaf of betel. Some even say that the astrologer can predict the outcome of a certain situation by guessing the number of betel leaves that are offered.
When greeting a person higher in social status the top end of the betel leaf is turned towards that individual, indicating the higher level of authority and respect.
When a Sinhalese passes away, betel leaves are placed to gather families and friends coming to pay their last respects. During funeral rites the betel leaves are turned upside down so as to indicate closure.
Bo Leaf - The Bo leaf comes from the Bodhi tree Literally the ‘tree of awakening’, also known as the Bo Tree, it is the tree under which Siddhārtha Gautama is believed to have gained enlightenment (bodhi) after meditating under it for 49 days. Bo leaves are used to decorate Buddhist temples, healing rituals, and is found in the national flag.