Vesak celebrations take place in the month of May each year in Sri Lanka, on a Poya Day, which is the day of the full moon. The celebrations extend to the day following Poya as well, and it marks the day that the Lord Buddha was born, attained Enlightenment and passed from this world.
The celebrations are unique- every Buddhist household makes or buys lanterns made out of bamboo and pasted with colored oil paper to be hung with a lighted candle inside, somewhere in their home compound. The streets are ablaze with color as various lanterns in all shapes and sizes adorn homes and sidewalks, while Buddhist organizations and even the Government put up Pandols that tell the story of Lord Buddha.
The two Vesak Days are spent in religious observances and foster a spirit of giving. Many people choose to donate ready-made food and drink items to the needy who pass by on the streets enjoying Vesak, and these ‘Dansel’ are a highlight of the festival.
While the country’s Buddhist community predominantly resides in parts of the country that are south of the Central Province, it was heartening to see Jaffna, in the very North of the country also make arrangements for the festival. The Hindu community that characterizes Jaffna demonstrates religious tolerance through this endeavor. Staying at The Thinnai, the newest All-Suite Boutique Hotel to open for business in Jaffna this year, the guests were really able to get the true feel of Vesak. The hotel went all out to hold its own Vesak Lantern Competition, with each department of the hotel competing against each other to make the most beautiful and artistic lanterns. This resulted in some absolutely awe-inspiring creations, which guests were then asked to judge. The Front Office Staff outdid themselves and walked away with the honor of having created the most stunning Vesak lanterns.
And so, the hotel was a riot of color in the festivities and gave its guests the chance to experience Vesak first-hand. What a commendable gesture by the hotel that made everyone around feel the spiritual warmth of the most important festival among the Buddhist people of Sri Lanka!