Tag Archives: Vesak

Vesak 2016, One Like No Other

Today is Vesak Poya (full moon) Day. It is probably the most important festival of the year in the Theravada 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 is the day Siddhartha Gautama was born, 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 Gautama’s supreme enlightenment as the Buddha, under the Bodhi tree in Gaya. The third event was Lord Buddha’s Parinibbana (passing away) over 2,500 years ago at Kusinagar.

lord-buddhas-parinibbana

Lord Buddha’s Parinibanna

YAMU states that “Vesak is traditionally the most observed day of uposatha, the Buddhist day of observance. Devotees flock to the temples to observe ‘Ata Sil’ (the eight precepts), spend the day in meditation and attending sermons, and generally partaking in dana (giving), sila (observing precepts) and bhavana (meditation). Vesak usually attracts the most number of attendees out of all twelve annual Poya days”.

“Even the seemingly ‘secular’ celebrations around Vesak carry deep spiritual meaning. Offering flowers is a way to contemplate the way the flowers wither and die in the sun, just as every being does, and a reminder to be mindful of the fragility and impermanence of life. The eight-sided classic Vesak lantern is meant to represent the Ata Lo Daham (the eight vicissitudes of life – gain and loss, good repute and ill repute, praise and censure, and pain and pleasure), and the candle inside is to remember not to get attached or affected by these – lest it be a cause for suffering (as the candle touching the sides of the lantern causes it to burn down).”

vesak3

Vesak Lanterns

As with all religious festivals (you need only look at Christmas), commercialism has left its mark, not always for the best. However, with the recent sad natural events in Sri Lanka with large parts of urban areas on the outskirts of Colombo and in the West of the country being flooded due to extremely heavy rains, and more disastrously several landslides more inland close to Kegalle causing nearly two hundred deaths (the definite numbers are not yet known as rescue operations are ongoing), this Vesak will be one like no other. I remember last year we were praying for Nepal during Vesak, now we are praying for the country I choose to call home, Sri Lanka.

Many relief operations are ongoing (see below if you want to help, especially the end note).

During Vesak the Dana (food) plays an important role. Every devotee gives alms. This symbolises sharing the joy and peace with people. Richer members of the community will usually donate food or money to poorer families and societies or just groups of friends will have collected money from the community in order to organise a local dansal (free gifts of food, coffee, tea and refreshments to people, in particular travellers on their way to worship at temples). In my village, Narigama in Hikkaduwa, the dansalas have been cancelled and the food and money collected has gone to help survivors of the floods and landslides.

If you would like to make a donation or help in any other way then this article has all the information you need:2016 Flood Relief by YAMU

2016 Flood Relief by YAMU

NB: if you are going up to affected areas with donations please use your common sense and do not hamper rescue operations in any way. If you do not have a direct contact where you are going I would advise you to bring your donations to a known collection point instead. In some areas supply is exceeding demand whereas other areas have nothing. There are also opportunists around who are all too happy to accept your donations with fake tears. Don’t go on the off chance you may be able to help – you won’t. By all means collect items that may be of use in the coming weeks BUT, LEAVE THE DISTRIBUTION TO THE PROFESSIONALS IN THESE EARLY DAYS. 

May the thrice blessed Vesak be a contemplative holiday for all.

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HAPPY VESAK!

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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Why I Love the Off-season in Hikkaduwa

Not one to follow the hordes, always a little different but tourists can be annoying and I rejoice when they all leave.

I can hear you now – this white woman loves our Sri Lanka but she is constantly complaining about our habits and other Governmental inadequacies and unfairness….now this. APO!

This country needs tourism to survive. FACT. The Government is actively promoting tourism on a huge scale. FACT. The problem, however lies in the manner in which they are doing this. I am not going into detail here – This is my personal blog and my journalist hat has been disposed of a while ago. Just two words – Hambantota & fail. Maybe in time but too much borrowed money on non-profitable enterprises is going to hurt the average Sri Lankan in the long run with run-away inflation. Actually we are already seeing this in the dropping exchange rate. I still have no idea how the really poor survive. I hope it is on goodwill from family, friends, neighbours, some friendly tourists and self-grown crops. I have heard stories of families living on one meal a day – rice, dhal and pol sambol – ok you have your carbs in the rice, protein in the dhal, taste in the pol sambol but each day, every day and only once a day?

Anyway back to the point, the season has ended in my home town. The mass influx of tourists have left. The hordes of bikini-clad girls and women and men in board shorts or rather unattractive speedos have gone. There are a few left….mainly Russians who obviously didn’t do their homework on seasons, culture etc. The beach once again is the beauty I fell in love with 10 years ago. Almost empty, no more fully occupied sunbeds and hundreds of people on the beach, bar a few lost tourists looking for a bar that is still open. There are not many as a lot have moved on to Arugam Bay on the East coast for a few months (where the season is just starting) or close up to rejuvenate themselves, their staff and renovate for next season (beach-side properties here take a hell of a battering during the off season with the wet salt wind gusts).

The old and trusted places, however stay open; Top Secret, Spaghetti & Co, Refresh, JLH, the 4 and 5 star hotels for those folks with a bit more cash to spend and a handful of others. The true troopers – the Hikkaduwa regulars. Love them.

This is what what our beach looks like now:

Sunset at Hikkaduwa Beach (courtesy: Christine Keusch)

Sunset at Hikkaduwa Beach (courtesy: Christine Keusch who runs the Lawrence Hill Paradise Ayurveda Hotel)

Peace and quiet for a few months, enjoy! Don’t let it stop you visiting this beautiful area. There is still lots to explore. You can still eat and drink and the weather is generally good from mid-June until September (May, October & November are generally rainy as the seasons change). Bliss. This area without the thousands of tourists will give you a more memorable holiday and more opportunities to mingle with the local people during festivals such as Vesak and Poson.

HAPPY VESAK TO EVERYBODY TOMORROW. BUDU SARANAI.

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HAPPY VESAK!

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 Gautama’s supreme enlightenment as the Buddha, under the Bodhi tree in Gaya. The third event was Lord Buddha’s Parinibbana (passing away) over 2500 years ago at Kusinagar.

The Buddha teaching

The Teaching Buddha

Apart from Sri Lanka, many Asian countries including India, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and Nepal also celebrate Vesak. In Sri Lanka many religious activities are organised during this period such as Sil campaigns (whole day worship & prayer at temples with devotees all dressed in white), Bodhi Poojas (giving of alms; flowers, fruit, food for the Buddha), Dansalas (free gifts of food, coffee, tea and refreshments to people, in particular travellers on their way to worship at temples), Vesak devotional songs (Bakthi Gee), pandols (thoran) and lanterns . Lanterns are hung up in every home bringing the smallest villages to life and stunning larger displays can be seen in the major cities.

Vesak lantern

Vesak lanterns

On this holy day the Dana (food) plays an important role. Every devotee gives alms. This symbolises sharing the joy and peace with people. Richer members of the community will usually donate food or money to poorer families and societies or just groups of friends will have collected money from the community in order to organise a local dansal (see above). During the Vesak Festival week, the selling of alcohol and meat is usually forbidden and most shops are closed for at least two days.

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