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Vesak is a day which makes the whole of Sri Lanka burst with color. Vesak Poya day celebrates the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing away (Parinirvana) of Lord Buddha. The date on which Vesak falls on every year varies and is decided based on the Asian Lunar Calendar. Vesak is celebrated throughout the week on which the chosen date falls. Vesak Poya day is an excellent opportunity for tourists who want to learn more about the Religious and Cultural side of Sri Lanka.Vesak is a religious and cultural festival in Sri Lanka. It is celebrated on the day of the full moon in the month of May. Vesak Day is one of the biggest days of the year and is celebrated by Buddhists all over the world. Buddhists commemorate the important events that took place in the life of Lord Buddha on this 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 Kusinaga
During this week homes, shops and public locations are decorated with many colorful lights and lanterns.The Paper Lanterns which decorate everywhere during this time represents the light of the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha).
In the spirit of celebrating Vesak, the locals of Sri Lanka organize Dansals. These are basically gatherings where food and beverages (non alchoholic drinks) are given out freely to the public with the thought of goodwill and to earn Merits. Usually, men and women band together and campaign from door to door to receive contributions for the Dansal. This event is not just for Buddhists; it is common to see Christians, Tamils, and Hindus join hands with Buddhists and take part in this activity. The Food and Drink which are usually served at Dansals are Rice and Curry, Bread with “Seeni Sambol”, Ice coffee, Fruit Juice, Ice Cream and many more.
These are structures which are decorated with thousands of lights, they illustrate a chosen story from the 550 life stories of Lord Buddha.People Flock in thousands to witness these magnificent structures. While smaller Pandols are found at random guranteed enormous beautiful Pandols can be found at Pettah, Kottawa, Dehiwala, Maharagama, Dematagoda, and Boralasgamuwa.
While Vesak is majorly celebrated by Buddhists, Hindus too join in on the prayers and festivities as there own. They too have Pandols which are to venerate the God Ganesh.If you are interested to see Sri Lanka’s Religious and Cultural side it is a definite recommendation to visit during the Vesak Poya week. Though Vesak is celebrated throughout the country on a major scale, the biggest festivities can be witnessed only in main cities. You will be transported to the closest major city to enjoy the Buddhist cultural traditions. It is important to note that the purchasing of alcohol is prohibited on the Vesak Poya Day
For 2018 Vesak Poya day falls on 29th of April.