The Sweat Behind the Salt
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
In a fairy tale told by the Brothers Grimm, a princess shared the depths of her devotion towards her father, saying that she loved him as much as salt. The foolish king was enraged by his daughter’s words, not knowing the true value of salt.
The king of course, had to learn the importance of salt the hard way. Although a commodity used in every kitchen, life wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for salt. In fact, the only reason you and I are alive at this moment is because of the salt in our bodies. Without the sodium ions from salt carrying signals through our nervous system, our muscles wouldn’t work, lungs would stop breathing and heart would stop beating.
Sri Lanka’s salt is sourced from the sea. Using the heat from the sun, water is evaporated procedurally, in three stages until salt starts to form.
We use salt every single day in our lives, yet we rarely think about the sweat behind each grain of salt. Throughout the entire process, men and women work day-in and day-out, toiling amidst the elements, their sweat enriching the salt being collected.
Pictured here are the tireless efforts of such men and women working at Bundala Saltern of Lanka Salt Ltd. However, a sight such as this is only for the time being. The usage of modern machinery would clearly be more efficient, cost-effective, and convenient for the industry, but would come at the cost of the livelihood of hundreds, and their families as well.
Even so, knowing the fact that their livelihood is still in the balance, the workers continue to brave the elements, day-in and day-out, bringing the salt we need to our doorsteps.
Let us take time to appreciate the sweat and labour of these men and women with each pinch of salt we use.
(Pix by Venura Chandramalitha)