We got a question today asking about the name of the food container used traditionally in Sri Lanka to take meals to the Buddhist Temple. The monks in the Buddhist Temples get their morning meal and lunch from their devotees in the same community. Traditionally, these meals are brought to the temple in a particular container that can store the curries in separate compartments.
Usually, there are few monks living in a Temple who are mainly engaged in religious activities. “The villagers” provide meals to the temple and the food is prepared with lots of respect.
A typical Sri Lankan meal usually contains rice and curry. Usually, the amount of rice eaten is more than the curries. Hence, there is a big single container for rice. In my experience, this can be a plastic basket that can be closed with a lid.
The one which is used to bring curries, sambals, and salads to the temple is a Tiffin Carrier. A tiffin carrier is a kind of lunch box that is widely used in Asian countries. The meal in Asian countries can have several components and it is particularly important to have this type of compartmentalized container to securely carry a meal to a person or more.
The compartments are stacked together vertically in several tiers. The common material used to make these tiffin carriers are steel and aluminum. Sometimes, the lowest tier has a bigger container that can be used for rice.
To answer the question asked by our reader, the Tiffin Carrier is called “Dan Adakkuwa – දන් අඩක්කුව” in Sinhala. However, in day-to-day use, it is also called “Dane set eka– දානේ සෙට් එක”.
Internationally, Tiffin carriers are used to carry lunch. The popular Dabbawalas in Mumbai, India usually these containers to carry lunch to office workers. Dabbawalas are people who collect lunch from office workers’ houses and deliver them to their workplace. Hence, in India, the tiffin carrier is called dabbas.