Similar to Christmas for the Christians, celebrating the birth of Christ, Vesak for the Buddhists heralds the birth of Prince Siddhartha, who eventually attained Buddhahood as Gauthama Buddha. Vesak day is the most important day in the Buddhist calendar.
All over the country, temples, in the villages, and in the cities, announce the dawn of Vesak, 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 calender, 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.
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 thousand years ago in northern India, Gautama was born, attained Enlightenment, and passed away, on the day of the month, separated by some 80 years and Buddhists all over the world celebrate the three events on Vesak day.