WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka


Vesak festival

Sri Lanka celebrates Vesak - a thrice-blessed day for Buddhists as it commemorates the birth of Buddha, his attaining Enlightenment and his passing away into Nirvana.

This is a day spent in reflective prayer while lanterns made from bamboo frames and covered in coloured paper are hung inside every home and incredible illuminated displays decorate the streets. Devoted Buddhists pray in temples from dawn until dusk, then take part in processions as the sun sets, visiting the temples again in the evening to hear monks read stories from the Buddhist texts.

Stalls on the roadside distribute free refreshments to passers-by and there are some fantastic mime and street theatre performances, staged on tall platforms throughout the cities and towns near the temples.

Vesak is celebrated on the day of the full moon in May. It is the most hallowed of Buddhist festivals, almost a Christmas, Easier and Whitsun rolled into one as it commemorates the birth of the Buddha, his enlightenment and his death.

Vesak devotional songs (Bakthi Gee), sil campaigns, Bodhi Poojas, Dansalas, Pandals, lanterns, greeting cards and stamps are some of the things that we see every year at the time of this Buddhist festival.

Buddhists commemorate the important events that took place in the life of Lord Buddha on this Vesak Full Moon Poya Day. First comes the birth of Siddhartha Gautama in Lumbini in Nepal which took place under the arbor of Sat trees where queen Mahamaya gave birth to him.

The second event was Siddharta Gautam's supreme attainment as the Buddha, the Enlightened One. The third event was Lord Buddha's Parinibbana over 2500 years ago at Kusinagar.
In the Vesak week we find many activities conducted by the Buddhists devotees such as devotional song campaigns, almsgiving, lighting of Vesak lanterns ..etc. Many Viharas are filled with Atasil devotees and pilgrims all over Sri Lanka to mark this great event.

In temples Buddhists worship, offer flowers, light lamps and burn incense. These traditional observances, in essence, have their value in satisfying the religious and emotional needs of the people. On this holy day the Dana plays an important role. Every devotee gives alms. This is a sign of sharing with joy and peace with people. The Vesak Pandal depicting various Jathaka stories with paintings are erected all over Sri Lanka. They are illuminated and presented beautifully.

Many Vest lanterns are displayed at houses, which are very attractive and beautify the nights.
There is a long-standing tradition in Sri Lanka of sending greeting cards on this joyous occasion. People share their happiness among relatives and friends by exchanging Vest cards. Many associations arrange to hold an exhibition of paintings or competition on Vest lanterns. The winners are awarded valuable prizes.

WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka