It’s been festival after festival of late in Sri Lanka, and here I thought Nepal had the most. Vesak is under way currently and oh my goodness, is it ever a beautiful festival.
What is Vesak you ask? It happens on the May full moon and celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha in one bumper festival. It’s known as Vesak here in Sri Lanka, and as Jayanti in Nepal.
Vesak is celebrated across Asia and besides paying homage to Buddha by decorating the city with an array of light displays and lanterns called kuudu, devotees are also required to bring happiness to others by wishing one another well and offering dansalas (free food) to passersby. You could eat your dinner with the volume of free food if you were so inclined! It’s a time of joy, of being with family and here in Sri Lanka, it is celebrated not just by the Buddhists, but by most Sri Lankans, irrespective of their religious leanings.
I am told the celebrations in Colombo draw people from all over Sri Lanka, arriving by truckload after hours on the road. It’s true, I saw many trucks loaded with people coming into the city earlier today.
It’s a pretty big deal here. India’s Prime Minister Modi will be Guest of Honour at tomorrow’s opening ceremony and none other than The Right Honourable Bidhya Devi Bhandari, President of Nepal will be the Guest of Honour at the closing ceremonies in Kandy on Sunday.
I’m fortunate that most of the festivities are right on my doorstep. Fellow volunteer Joe and I headed out for a few hours tonight and we were like kids in a sweet shop, in awe with all the lighted displays. We wandered around for a couple of hours and took a ton of photos. I usually trim the number of photos for blog posts, but this time, they are so impressive I will show you most of them in this slideshow.
It is now a little after 1am and there does not seem to be any let up with the celebrations, it’s like rush-hour outside my balcony that unfortunately faces the street. There will be more celebrations again tomorrow ….
Happy Vesak everyone!