Kandy Perahara, SriLanka
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Vesak Festival Sri Lanka. If any single day in the Buddhist calendar is of equal importance to the Christmas day in Christian calendar, it has to be the day of Wesak. All over the country, temples, in the villages, and in the cities, announce the dawn of Wesak, with peals of bells, and drum beats. The devout, clad in pure white, with no make-up or jewelry, make their way to the temple, to spend the next twenty four hours in quiet contemplation. No solid food in taken after mid-day meal, for this day, the holiest of days in the Buddhist calendar, one is there to rid the mind of impure thoughts, and the body of impure habits. (Observe Sil). While the rest of the village, gather at the temple grounds after sunset to participate in lesser religious activities, like reading of holy books, or listen to the saffron clad monk relate ancient stories from Lord Buddha's previous lives. ( listen to Bana ).

Simple candle-lit lanterns like these, that seem to fascinate these youngsters, made with bamboo frames and covered with colored transparent paper adorn every house, for Wesak, is a muted celebration as well. Over two-and-a-half centuries ago in northern India, Gautama was born, attained Enlightenment, and passed away, on the same day of the month, separated by some 80 years. and Buddhists all over celebrate the three events on Wesak day.

With the growth of commerce, many large businesses in cities like Colombo saw the commercial possibilities of Wesak, similar to how the businesses in the west embraced Christmas. Sending of Wesak cards to friends and business associates has become the done thing, during the month of May. Shops selling large and small lanterns, candles, and various electric lighting sets, and papers of any imaginable color abound.

Many of the bigger companies pay other small companies to make large Wesak lanterns like these in the hope of attracting prospective customers, and they do come .... Traffic in the streets leading to more popular sites, bad during normal days becomes impossible during the Wesak Holidays.

This Wesak lantern, elaborate and several tiers high, could have cost the sponsor quite a large sum of money, but that would be offset with the extra sales !!!.