Celebrating Vesak Day in Sri Lankan Way
The train to Anantapur from Colombo broke down, long story. We had to get off at Kurungala. It was a pleasant experience, actually, but the accident left us without a plan. We decided to visit Dambulla, about 50km away from where we were. For the first time, we got on a local bus and headed to Dambulla, famous for its cave temple.
The road was tougher than we expected. We arrived at Dambulla bus station, covered with dirt and sweat. We settled at a new guesthouse by the main road. A good news was waiting for our tired body. There will be a parade for Vesak Day, in front of the temple. Dambulla is a small town with nothing to do but visiting cave temple. We ended up staying there for five days (without the internet, surprisingly) and got a chance to celebrate Vesak day with the townspeople.
Wesak or Vesak Day (Vesākha) is a holy day observed traditionally by Buddhists in Sri Lanka, Tibet, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and the South East Asian countries of Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Sometimes informally called “Buddha’s Birthday”, but it actually commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha. The actual Vesak day is different as the tradition. In the countries following Buddhist calendar, it falls on a full moon Uposatha day, typically in the 5th or 6th lunar month. It is celebrated on the eighth of the fourth month in the lunar calendar in China and Korea.
Starting with the parade, on the eve of Vesak day, everyone was in a party mood for the whole three days weekend. They were drinking Tang, and drumming and singing on the tracker, on the way to the temple. It felt good to be around with people who were happy with the Buddha’s day.
Many Sri Lankans visited the Dambulla Cave Temple with a flower. Our long visit to Dambulla wouldn’t have been this fun if it wasn’t Vesak day weekend. Good timing, I say.
Here are the photos from Dambulla Cave Temple, that dates back to 1st century BC. There are paintings and statues are related to Lord Buddha and his life, including a total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddesses (the god Vishnu and the god Ganesh).