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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 05 Reasons to Explore Sri Lanka During the Month of Vesak – Festival of Lights

Vesak denotes the birth, enlightenment & passing of Lord Buddha. Celebrated in the month of May, the festival is signified with the building of amazing paper lamps that adorn all parts of the country.


The Island is on Holiday

Vesak is celebrated at a time considered the most sacred of all full moon poya days. This entails 2 public holidays across the island. A happy festive atmosphere prevails across the nation at this time with windy weather and cooling breezes offering salubrious climes across Sri Lanka.


Best Time to Absorb the Culture

Vesak is the best time to observe traditional religious rituals. The most sacred of all Buddhist festivals this event is given the highest observance. During Vesak poya, lots of religious acts are conducted at temples. Sil is observed all night which signifies the taking of vows to follow a pious lifestyle according to Buddha's teachings. In addition, devotees engage in meditation rituals within the serene confines of the temple while interesting and enlightening sermons are delivered by Buddhist monks. Many Buddhist devotees offer alms at this time; feeding the needy or supplying basic necessities. It is quite common to hear the toll of temple bells as faithful gather under the fluttering branches of the sacred Bo tree paying homage to the Triple Gem, the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha confirming their faith in the Buddha's teachings.


There is Free Food Galore

Vesak is a time of earning merit and living a spiritual life as taught by the Buddha. At this time individuals who have taken a sacred vow as an homage to favours granted or as an act of bestowing merit on a loved one passed away, will organise dansal. A dansala is a makeshift shed within which home cooked delicious 'free' food is served. These sheds spring up across the country and are not limited to one type of cuisine. There are the noodle dansal, fried rice dansal, boiled tapioca dansal, ice cream dansal, coffee dansal and so on. Anyone is welcome to join the queue and wait their turn to sit at the long table and enjoy an absolutely delicious feast at no cost.


The Island Turns into a Magical Fairyland

Vesak celebrates light; at this time temple walls are lined with little clay lamps that twinkle and glow. Handcrafted lanterns in various shapes are hung outside homes, offices and government buildings. The building of Vesak lamps is such a cherished project that competitions are held to choose the most elaborate designs. This causes talented artisans to display astounding creations of epic sizes. Tourists to Sri Lanka quite enjoy this spectacle as elaborate Vesak lanterns spin pulse and mesmerise all onlookers. The south coast popular amongst beach loving tourists celebrates with a myriad of lanterns and festivities. When staying at a seaside resort Bentota offers you may get the chance to witness light displays across the Bentota River. Places like AVANI Bentota Resort & Spa provide tours of this river from which you can visit temples where traditional rituals are held.


Observe Bhakthi Gee

Bhakthi gee are similar to Christmas carols. School children and talented young adults gather at prominent centres to sing traditional Vesak bakhthi gee. At times colourful floats will pass across the cities while dressed up boats ply the rivers with singers reverently chanting out holy songs for those on the river banks to hear.

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