Vesak is the main Buddhist religious festival in Sri Lanka. During this time, people celebrate the triple anniversary of Lord Buddha - his birth, his attaining of Enlightenment and his passing away into Nirvana. Apart from Sri Lanka, many Asian countries including India, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan celebrate Vesak. Many religious activities are organized during this period in Sri Lanka such as Sil campaigns, Bodhi Poojas, Dansalas (Freely giving foods, coffee, tea from people), Vesak devotional songs (Bakthi Gee), pandols (thoran) and lanterns.
Many temples get filled with devotees and pilgrims all over the country to mark this great event.On this holy day the ‘Dana’ (alms giving) plays an important role. This is a sign of sharing joy and peace with people.
Vesak lanterns called Vesak koodu are lit in most of the homes in Sri Lanka on Vesak poya day. Many associations arrange competitions on Vesak lanterns with the creators of the most beautiful lanterns being awarded valuable prizes.
In Vesak Season in electrically lit Vesak pandols called thoranas are erected island wide at public places, being mostly sponsored by donors, religious societies and welfare groups. Each pandol illustrates a story from the 550 ‘Jathaka Katha’ or the 550 Past Life Stories of the Buddha.