Sri Lanka has unveiled a towering Christmas tree, claiming to have surpassed the world record for the tallest artificial Christmas tree.
The 73-meter (238-foot) tree, built in capital Colombo, is 18 meters taller than the current record holder, organizers said. The tree’s steel-and-wire frame is covered with a plastic net decorated with natural pine cones, 600,000 LED bulbs and topped by a 6-meter-tall (20-foot) shining star.
Hundreds of port workers and volunteers struggled for four months to put up the tree in time for the holidays. Work was suspended for six days in early December after Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith — representing the island nation’s 1.5 million Catholics — lambasted the project. 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.
On Saturday, organizers said their tree beat the existing Guinness record held by a Chinese firm that put up a 55-meter (180-foot) tree-like tower in the city of Guangzhou last year.
Sri Lanka’s claim is subject to confirmation from Guinness World Records, which said it has received an application from the organizers and that it is waiting for evidence.
Sri Lankan organizers said they wanted the tree to help promote ethnic and religious harmony in the Buddhist-majority island nation, where a long civil war ended in 2009 but reconciliation remains a challenge.
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.