Vesak is one of the most celebrated religious festivals in Sri Lanka. It was on a Vesak full moon day that the Lord Buddha was born, enlightened and passed away. It falls on the full moon day of May every year.
Before the Lord Buddha was enlightened, he was a prince by the name of “Siddhartha”. He hailed from a royal clan called Shakya. He was born at Lumbini Saluyana of Kapilawasthupura. The day was Vesak full moon Poya day.
When he was a young man aged 16 he married Yasodara, a pretty princess from a relative’s clan. When prince Siddhartha was 29 years old his wife gave a birth to a prince, called “Rahula”. That very night prince Siddhartha left the castle in search of the meaning of life.
He did away with his royal clothing, cut his hair and dressed in robes of a ascetic. After few years he sat under a Bo tree and contemplated the nature of human life. At last he was successful. He had found the answer to the tormenting question “Why do people suffer?” At last he became the Lord Buddha. That day was a Vesak full moon Poya day.
He spent the rest of his life, which amounts to 45 years, preaching the Dharma he had realized to the mankind. He passed away at Kusinara at the age of 80 showing all that worthy things perish one day. That day was also a Vesak full moon Poya day.
On this special Poya day, devotees gather at temples and engage in various kinds of religious activities. The temple priests preach Dharma sermons to make the people aware of why Vesak is important and to make them understand a better way of life.
Many Buddhists go to temple and offer flowers to the Buddha. Others observe Sill . Some people give alms to poor people.
Buddhist temples are decorated with flags, Vesak lanterns, oil lamps and other decorations.
There are lots of people who go on pilgrimage to different sacred places.
We can see Dansalas on either side of the roads on this day. Pahan Poojas, Bodhi Poojas and alms giving campaigns are also special activities on this day.
On this day children are very happy because they can make Vesak lanterns and decorate their houses with lanterns, oil lamps and bulbs. Institutions also make Vesak lanterns. Buddhist schools launch religious activities in memory of the Lord Buddha.
During the Vesak season it is a common sight to see people visiting Pandols which depict different stories of the Buddha’s life..
The day decorates whole the world and is celebrated in all Buddhist countries.