Wesak full moon, the biggest ceremony in Sri Lanka

Everyone in the Buddhist world knows about Wesak ceremony and this is the most appropriate time to talk about it. Sri Lanka is a multi-national, multicultural holiday destination with an important festival every month.  But, this particular event is the far most important Buddhist religious celebration in Sri Lanka.

Travelling in Sri Lanka in the month of May

The month of May is not considered as one of the best months of the year to travel in Sri Lanka. The month of May marks the shift of monsoon from the east coast to the west coast. It means the weather pattern subjected to a complete change.

The dry, sunny weather on the west coast turn to wet and receive frequent rain from May to October. Furthermore, the sea-off the south-west coast turn to be very rough making it not suitable for salt-water activities.

At the wake of weather change, the number of foreign travellers on the island also makes a drastic drop. May is one of the months with the least number of foreign travellers.

However, as the west and south coast receive heavy rainfall, east coast beaches stay dry and sunny in the month of May, making it very suitable for holidays.

Celebration of Wesak

Sri Lankans love it and everybody takes part in the event. The event takes place in the month of May on the full moon day. The ceremony is known on the island as Vesak ceremony. Vesak is a 2-day Buddhist festival, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddha. This ceremony is celebrated in most Buddhist countries around the world. Vesak can be described as the most colourful event in Sri Lanka.

Beginning of Wesak

No one really sure about how this ceremony began but it is certainly one of the most historical ceremonies on the island and now it is a strong tradition among the Buddhist community. Every street, road, house and every corner of the country is lighted and decorated with colourful decorations.

How to celebrate Wesak?

Lantern, Pandalas, lightings, oil lamps and many other items are used for the decorations. This massive ceremony is celebrated throughout the country but Colombo takes the centre of the whole ceremony. All busy streets are closed to traffic and the roads are flanked with beautiful decorations. Usually, one week is dedicated to the ceremony and people travel to Colombo to see the main celebration, from far away destinations in the country.

The temples around the country get a massive influx of devotees during the 2 days ceremony. People gather to the temple to observe Sil (mediation), Buddhist precepts and listening to Buddhist chanting. This ceremony shows the dedication of the Buddhist of Sri Lanka to the religion.

Most foreign travellers are surprised to see the massive and colourful decoration that can be seen during the Vesak ceremony.  

The government officially declares a period of one week for the celebration of Vesak. During this period there is no permission to sell alcohol throughout the country. The move is taken in order to encourage people to abstain from alcohol, which is one of the main five precepts for Buddhism.

Almsgiving is another popular method of celebrating Vesak ceremony in Sri Lanka. In parallel to Vesak decoration, a large number of people engages in almsgiving and other merit-making activities. It is very common to see the places that distribute food and drinks free of charge, during this week. Usually, almsgivings are organized with the donations of the people in the immediate area.

Sometimes other materials such as dry rations are distributed among the people. If you happen to spend your holiday in Sri Lanka during the month of May, you can’t afford to miss this beautiful celebration. Colombo is the best place to see the Vesak celebration at its best. The streets are decorated with the participation of people.

The exhibits are evaluated during the ceremony and the best decorations are given price gifts. Bauddhaloka Vesak Kalapaya and Gangarama Vesak Kalapaya are the leading decoration areas with many years of experience of the organizers.

Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone and Buddha Rashmi Pooja

Every year Bauddhaloka Mawatha Colombo 7 will be illuminated like a burning candle for 1 week during the annual event of Vesak festival. The number of spectators who visit even exceeds many thousands every year. There is a large number of exhibits can be seen at the Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone and the number of exhibitors is increasing on a yearly basis.

Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone is one of the oldest and most important events in Colombo, which is organized to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddha.

The event is organized by the Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC). Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone was started in 2000 under the guidance of Dr. (Mrs.) Milina Sumathipala. A designated area of the Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone is starting in Borella junction and ends in Thunmulla Junction.

There are many places in Colombo make arrangements for the Vesak celebration, such as “Buddha Rashmi Pooj” which is organized by the Gangarama temple and the presidential secretariat.

Other than a large number of creative exhibits from the participants of this annual event there will be many activities throughout the celebration of Vesak. Mediation campaigns, Bakthi Gee, Drawings and Paintings competition are few events attracts the attention of the crowd. People are welcome to produce attractive and creative exhibits for the Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone and there will be cash prizes for the best exhibits.

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