The most important celebration in the Budddhist calendar is held in many Asian and Southeast Asian countries, but is celebrated with particular fervour in Sri Lanka. Held during the first full moon in the month of May, Vesak commemorates Buddha’s birth and his passing into Nirvana, and for Buddhists is a time for reflection, meditation and thoughtful prayer.
Buddhism is a religion to millions of people across the world. The word comes from ‘budhi’ meaning ‘to awaken’ and has its roots in the story of Siddhartha Gotama, a man who became enlightened some 2500 years ago. The central tenets of Buddhism concern leading a moral life, being mindful and aware of one’s thoughts and actions, and developing wisdom and understanding.
The story goes that on the night of his Enlightenment, knowledge and insight came to Buddha in three ‘watches’ or periods of the night. It is said that after the final watch, his mind was completely freed of all cravings, and he attained Full Enlightenment. Vesak festival commemorates this event – an event that is considered the genesis of Buddhism itself.
Along with meditation and thoughtful prayer, processions and evening recitals, coloured lanterns are hung up in every home, bringing towns and cities across the region to life. Keep an eye out for street performances and free refreshments at local roadside stalls – Vesak is a time of celebration! To see the best of the festival in Sri Lanka, head to Colombo’s main street, Bhauddoloka Mawatha.
See Vesak Festival for yourself
Plan a tour or private journey to Sri Lanka and experience the celebrations of Vesak Festival in Sri Lanka. Held during the May / June full moon, the best place in Sri Lanka to see the processions, enjoy the refreshments served by the stalls and engage with the celebrations is Bhauddoloka Mawatha, the main street in Colombo. For more on Vesak Festival, click here. For more information on the central tenets of Buddhism, click here.