Text and Pictures - by Pavithra Jovan De Mello
Vesak, is one of the biggest and most important days in the Buddhist calender in Sri Lanka and other countries. Even through war and hard times Vesak was celebrated, with most households having at least one lantern or a Buddhist flag hung in their garden, lit by a single candle or light bulb, to signify the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha. Walking through the busy streets of Colombo, we captured some of the activities that were taking place. From vendors selling traditional Vesak lanterns, to the members of the security forces joining hands to decorate and light up the city for this highly significant day. Millions of bulbs have come up all over the city. Everywhere you look you can see a Buddhist flag fluttering in the wind and the streets lined with lanterns. The area around the Beira lake seemed to be decorated the most, with even Lotus lanterns placed on the water . Little roadside shops selling various Vesak related merchandise that have been set up during the season can be seen almost everywhere. You can also see children of various ages at these temporary shops, helping their elders in selling and making the lanterns; some children keep a close eye on the merchandise while the adults are busy. People too could be seen going home with purchased lanterns to celebrate this majestic event. Vesak is one of the most colorful and beautiful religious events in our country, and its significance lies in it being associated with the Buddha and His universal message of peace. Vesak is a completely religious festival wherein the Buddhist are required to reaffirm their faith in the Buddha Dharma and vow to lead a noble religious life.