Vesak is a religious festival in the Buddhist calendar and is a very popular occasion celebrated by all Buddhists. The actual day of vesak is the full moon – Poya day in the month of May. People all around the country, regardless of which religion they belong to, give a lot of importance for vesak, and special preparations take place everywhere for the upcoming festival.
When the vesak season gets closer, those who are accustomed to making vesak lanterns, make and sell them. The streets of Colombo are lined up with several temporary stalls to sell lanterns in a variety of shapes and sizes. Along with lanterns, masks and vesak cards are also sold.
In Colombo, the Ganagarama vesak zone is the most popular place to be if you want to see the most creative collection of vesak lanterns. Organized by the Gangarama Temple with the support of national ministers, this vesak zone aims to not just celebrate vesak but also to educate people about the significance of vesak, regardless of which religion they belong to. The government, as well as many private companies donates in cash and kind to make this a worthy cause. People walking around the Beira Lake to see vesak lanterns are requested to wear appropriate clothing.
Dehiwala, a suburb of the city of Colombo, celebrates vesak in grand style on the road leading to the Dehiwala zoo. Along with vesak lanterns, exclusive pandals are featured here. Pandals are another feature that is part of the vesak festival, often placed on roads and junctions. These large decorative structures are lit up with bulbs forming dynamic patterns. Pandals are highly creative and attract a large number of people to listen to the stories of Buddhism.
Galle Face Green is another place to be to have a look at a stunning collection of vesak lanterns and pandals. Parking is a challenge here so it is a good idea to simple walk up to there and enjoy the view.
In addition to the above three places, simply drive along the streets of Colombo and you will get to see an amazing sight with colorful and creative lanterns decorating the streets. Popular hotels and restaurants also go out of their way to make vesak celebrations a part of their environment. Vesak is a time where you can enjoy the look of the city at its most beautiful.
Tip: Request Blue Lanka Tours to book you on to a Colombo city tour bus on a vesak night and it will take you around all the popular places to visit during the vesak season.