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Friday, May 24, 2013

Vesak Festival

Today is Vesak Poya Day, the most important Festival in the year for Buddhists all over the world. Vesak Full Moon Poya Day is an annual holy day to commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and death (Parinirvāna) of Lord Buddha. It is a traditional celebration for the islands Buddhists, and is the most important Holy Day for Buddhists.

Vesak is celebrated in many other countries throughout Asia, however Sri Lanka's celebrations seem to stand out. During the Vesak season people from all ethnic and religious groups in the country get together and decorate their houses and streets, shops and towns.

Children and adults alike engage in the traditional Vesak lantern making, the streets of towns and cities are filled with these lanterns and everyone travels around to see the spectacles. It truly is a spectacle of lights and colours.

Vesak typically falls in either the month of May for a period of a week. People from all over Sri Lanka flock to Colombo during this period to see the numerous Vesak decorations, much like Christmas decorations in the western world.

Buddhist clad in white and simple clothing attend to religious activities in temples all around the country, participating in mass meditation and ata sill. Vesak celebrations in Sri Lanka focus on the three main aspects of Buddhism, Dana, Seela, Bhavana,

Like Christmas  Vesak brings the spirit of giving and story telling with it, as such many people take to the streets to organise mass dansals, this custom dates back centuries where local people would prepare free meals for pilgrims who have travelled great distances to worship.

As with all major religious festivals Vesak too is becoming more and more a festival and commercialised like Christmas. That said there is still a great deal of religious activity.

The below video will give you a good idea of what to expect if you are in Colombo during this festive season.


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