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    » 05/21/2013, 00.00


    Sri Lankans to pray and celebrate during weeklong Vesak festival

    Melani Manel Perera

    Various ceremonies and cultural activities are scheduled for the 21-27 May festival, which marks Buddhism's most important religious event, the commemoration of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death.

    Colombo (AsiaNews) - With Buddhist flags hanging from government buildings and in public streets, and homes and businesses decked out with old-styled lanterns and traditional decorations in areas set aside for this purpose in the country's towns and cities, Sri Lankans kicked off the week-long festival of Vesak (21-27 May), Buddhism's main celebration, which marks the key moments in the Buddha's life, namely his birth, enlightenment and death.

    For the occasion, the government called on Buddhists to hang Buddhist flags from their homes and create a festive atmosphere in the streets and public places. Big and colorful pandols (gateways), illustrating the Buddha's life, dot the country.

    Vesak will culminate on 25 May with a festival in Yudaganawa Rajamaha Viharaya, Buttalla, Monaragala district (southeastern Sri Lanka).

    Prime Minister D M Jayaratne, Uva Province Chief Minister Shasheendra Rajapaksa and Religious Affairs Ministry officials are expected to attend. Similar celebrations are scheduled in Colombo, Kandy and Anuradhapura. 

    In this period, most Buddhists go to a temple to take part in planned religious ceremonies, as well as cultural events and spiritual gatherings. Many go on their own to practice meditation.

    Non-Buddhists are also welcome to share in the celebrations, often eager to watch youth choirs perform Bhakti Geetha, typical religious chants, in the streets.

    The practice of Dansala, in which people share food or drinks in the open air, is strictly regulated by the on Buddhism Affairs Commission in cooperation with local temple and village leaders. One rule that all must obey is not to play loud music or show images that may in any way distract people.

    On the occasion of Vesak, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon sent his greetings. His message stressed the importance of non-violence at a time of "widespread poverty and conflict" in the world.

    According to the 2011 census, 70.2 per cent of the Sri Lankan population is Buddhist.


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    See also

    21/05/2008 THAILAND
    Country celebrates Vesak; UN names it world centre of Buddhism
    More than a thousand religious and students of Buddhism met in Bangkok to celebrate the birth of Buddha and the proclamation of the international day dedicated to their religion. Moments of reflection on the earthquake in China, and on the cyclone in Myanmar.

    11/05/2011 SRI LANKA
    Christians should take part in ‘Vesak’ celebrations to boost ethnic reconciliation
    Many Buddhist and Christian values are similar. Christian human rights activist Jehan Perera explains why Christians, Muslims and Hindus must take part in the celebrations marking the enlightenment of the Buddha.

    05/05/2011 SRI LANKA
    Christian, Muslim and Hindu leaders with Buddhists this Vesak
    Sri Lanka is a "pluralistic society as it combines ethnic groups, religions and cultures," says Fr Hettiarachchi from the Inter Religious Alliance for National Unity. For this reason the faithful of all religions should celebrate the 2,600th anniversary of Buddha’s enlightenment.

    11/05/2009 SRI LANKA
    Buddhist feast of Vesak in Sri Lanka, as the war wages on
    Two days of national holidays under the high patronage of the state. For President Rajapaksa Buddhism “prepares the path for a new Sri Lanka”. Buddhist faithful and Christian leaders criticise the celebrations: “they forget the victims and refugees of this war”. UN confirms that confirms that over the weekend 100 children were killed in the no fire zone.

    19/06/2008 SRI LANKA
    Buddhist festival of Poson Poya for peace and “non violence”
    The country’s religious minorities hope that as an invitation to national harmony the Buddhist feast day can be an occasion for dialogue and mutual understanding among different ethnic groups and religions. A Catholic priest reiterates the desire “to live like a big family.”

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