From Sunday 29 April to Wednesday 02 May 2018, the Buddha Rashmi National Vesak Festival, coordinated by Gangaramaya Temple, will be celebrated at the Hunupitiya, Gangaramaya Temple and at Temple Trees premises, both in Colombo.
During this Festival, Lord Buddha’s relics from Saranath (India), Gandara relics from Taxila (Pakistan) and historical Buddhist artefacts from Nepal will be exhibited.
At the first conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, which was held in 1950 in Sri Lanka, it was decided to celebrate Vesak as Lord Buddha’s birthday. This important holiday is also known under the designation of Buddha Purnima and Buddha Day and is observed by Buddhists all over the world, following a centuries-old tradition. Also United Nations are observing Vesak at its headquarters and offices since 1999.
Devotees are not only celebrating the birth of Gautama Buddha, but also his enlightenment and his passing away. Therefore, they bring simple offerings as there are flowers, joss-sticks and candles which by their nature will remind them transiency of life. Moreover, on those days, birds and other animals may be released by devotees to symbolize giving freedom to the ones who are in captivity. Buddhists are also reminded that they shall live in harmony with and respect of the faiths of other people, according to the Buddha’s doctrine.
Buddhists are celebrating Vesak to reiterate their determination to lead noble lives, to develop their minds, to practise loving-kindness and to bring peace and harmony to humanity.
In Sri Lanka, devotees will light colourful lamps (Vesak Kuudu) along the streets and in front of their homes. Those lamps signify enlightenment and freedom from darkness. Believers also set up food stalls (Dansälas) and give free food and beverages to passers-by.