With special thoughts and prayers for Nepal on this Vesak day in 2015.
ankie renique's blog
Now unless you live in a mainly Buddhist country like Sri Lanka or are a devout follower of Buddhism, you’re probably wondering “what is she on about now?” when I happily wish you and your family a happy and peaceful vesak. Today is Vesak Poya (full moon) Day. It is probably the most important festival of the year in the Buddhist calendar. Buddhists commemorate the three most important events that took place in the life of Lord Buddha on this Vesak Poya Day (always the first full moon in the month of May). First comes the birth of Siddhartha Gautama which took place under the arbour of Sat trees in in Lumbini Park on the Nepalese border where Queen Mahamaya gave birth to him. The second event was Siddharta Gautam’s supreme enlightenment as the Buddha, under the Bodhi tree in Gaya. The third event was Lord Buddha’s Parinibbana (passing away)
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I love my own company and am quite happy to spend hours alone, working, reading, cooking, drinking, smoking or simply doing nothing at all. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy being with others too but sometimes I need my space and my close friends and family know that and respect it.
Not having had much time to blog over the last 2 weeks because of a heavy workload I thought I would stay home alone tonight whilst my other half and his family (and most of the neighbours it seems) have gone to a funeral house. It is a family member (uncle-in-law) but I was not close to him and as I’m not Buddhist (in the Sri Lankan sense) I really see no point in sitting around an open casket and drinking tea for hours well into the night and trying to decipher what the women are saying in Singhalese. The men, on the other hand, are all outside playing card games, drinking arrack (it’s Poya but the deceased was a policeman so who cares (!!)) and having a grand time. Most odd to an outsider, normal here.
So I am here with my windows and doors open in peace. It’s Poya, the full moon bank holiday which Sri Lanka celebrates every month. It’s beautiful and quiet – bliss.
Most people that know me would be surprised at this post:
- The wine stores are closed on Poya day
- The bank is closed on Poya day
- Most shops are closed on Poya day
So why do I love it? Because:
- You can plan in advance for all of the above (I have had the occasional hiccup and been without essentials (i.e. booze) but generally with the amount of Muslim shops in my town and one “Tourist approved” wine store which is open 247 except for Wesak things are fine 🙂 )
- Internet banking – go figure.
- The people are relaxed – now I know this sounds crazy because Sri Lankans bring relaxation to a new level at the best of times but on Poya days they are happier and smilier. Women and children visit temples dressed in white with flowers and incense, men are relaxed because they have the day off. Families are together and for some reason the children seem to cry less and have more fun (maybe that’s just me).
- Traffic is bearable.
- People are nicer too – some give money and food to the poor and others (peculiar but cute) refuse to kill ants or any other insects because it’s Poya.
- And last but not least, the sky at night on a clear day is absolutely stunning. And, when you’re alone, chilling out, star-gazing, I couldn’t think of a nicer place in the world to be at the moment.