Sri Lanka: North and East celebrated Vesak after 30 years

by Hilary Rajakarunanayake, Asian Tribune, May 9, 2009

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- After 30 years, Buddhists in the Jaffna peninsula and in Batticaloa celebrated Vesak on Friday, commemorating the birth of Buddha, his attaining Enlightenment and his passing away into Nirvana.

"With the dawn of peace into the North, this seems a significant development towards the government's effort to unite the country", a Batticaloa resident said.

"Colorful lanterns made from bamboo frames, Buddhist flags and other decorations were on displayed everywhere, even in the Jaffna peninsula." Arrangements have already been made for Buddhists in the North to participate in 'bakthi gee', sil campaigns, bodhi poojas, dansalas, and pandal competitions as Buddhists in the other parts of island celebrated Vesak.

"The entire Batticaloa town was decorated with Buddhist flags by the only temple in the city. The Buddhist temple, Sri Managalaramaya organized the above activities to celebrate this year's Vesak festivities," a Batticaloa resident told Asian Tribune today.

The Buddhist Vihare 'Lumbini'at Kilinochchi which had been badly damaged by LTTE terrorists, has now been repaired and redecorated and was declared open to Buddhist worshippers yesterday. The 58th division of the Sri Lanka Army supervised the handing over ceremony this morning.

Irrespective of religious differences, the people of Jaffna were united in hanging decorations outside their homes celebrating Wesak this year after a long spell of 30 years. The area between the Kankesanturai Cement Factory and the KKS harbor is the venue for a lantern competition and a concert of Bakthi Gee recitals late yesterday evening.

The 51st regiment of the Sri Lanka Army organized mammoth rice ‘dansala’ which fed a meal of rice for lunch to around thousands of persons opposite the Naga Viharaya yesterday noon in Jaffna, said the Chief Sanghanayaka of North Sri Lanka, Ven. Meegahajaduray Gnanarathana.

There were several giant exquisite wesak lanterns lit up beside the Ariyakulam tank in the heart of the Jaffna city.

Also according to sources, several residents of Jaffna have donated essential items needed by the Internal Displaced Persons who fled the LTTE areas.