Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Images of Vesak

This full moon is a really special one - it is the Vesak celebration (Buddha Jayanti in Nepal) which is a really important celebration in Buddhism, marking Buddha’s birth, death and reaching nirvana or enlightenment.

What is fascinating is how differently the occasion is marked. In Sri Lanka, the streets have been filling with stalls lined with paper lanterns with trails, and buildings are being dressed up with garlands of lights. Important and holy places are adorned, and even main roundabouts are meticulously decorated with lights, lanterns and huge lotus blossom lamps.

In fact it reminds me more of Diwali or Tihar, the Hindu festival of Lights as it is often called. In Nepal, on the day of Laxmi Puja, the day to celebrate the goddess of wealth (Laxmi) is the highlight of the Tihar festival. Garlands of lights are strung on buildings and thousands upon thousands of butter milk candles are prepared for lighting when night falls. The belief is that Laxmi will visit the most brightly illuminated homes and bestow wealth for the coming year. Little footprints of mud guide her to the places where she should focus her wealth (we always used to have a trail leading to the safe in our office!) As evening would fall the Kathmandu Valley would be ablaze with lights until inevitably the power would fail with the huge overload. Then it would be bathed in the gentle warm glow of thousands of buttermilk candles, which I found incredibly beautiful.

So I find Vesak in Colombo reminiscent of a very different Festival in Nepal. Here are a few images for starters.........

As evening falls you can see the lights and lanterns at most houses lighting up.

The full moon shines over the cityMy neighbours have decorated their door with a bright star lantern.

And thousands of these lanterns are strung everywhere in streets, outside buildings and homes.

Now a parade is coming along our street so I am off to watch it .....

1 comment:

ROUTES said...

fantastic places you go to and you bring it all alive for me xx