Colombo leans towards a tranquil Vesak

Published : 10:07 am  April 30, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


 reads | 


By Yoshitha Perera and Sarah Muiz

Vesak is considered a cultural and religious festival in Sri Lanka and it is the main occasion in the Buddhist calendar. Vesak falls on the full moon Poya day annually in May.
Buddhists commemorate the significant events that took place in the life of The Buddha on  Vesak full moon Poya day. Vesak marks the birth, enlightenment and death of The Buddha and his message of peace and tranquility to mankind.  This year Vesak celebrations would be held under the theme “Cultivate Compassion”. People give an important place for Vesak and special preparations are underway in the city of Colombo for the coming festival.


During the Vesak season those who are fond of Vesak lanterns would either buy or make them. The streets of Colombo are often lined with a number of temporary stalls selling lanterns of all shapes and sizes, masks and also Vesak cards. The  spoke to a few fabricators and vendors of Vesak lanterns. Following are comments made by vendors selling Vesak lanterns and decorations.

Vesak5I am a government worker and have been engaged in this business for about fifteen years. I use natural raw materials in fabricating Vesak lanterns. This year business is worthy of my effort and the CMC is giving  me good support to run the business. Over the past four years, the CMC made a charge for Vesak lantern and decoration stall sites. We are expected to make a payment this year too. We had to take obtain a permit from the CMC and produce it to the police and environment authorities for their approval to run a stall. The lowest price of a lantern is Rs. 100 and I take orders to build creative lanterns too. I have the legal approval to continue this business every Vesak season.

Vesak6I am a taxi driver but I have being running the Vesak lantern business for nearly 30 years. Apart from lanterns I sell decorative bulbs and Vesak buckets that would provide a glow to this season. Through this business I gain more spiritual satisfaction than what I earn. I also sell lanterns made using natural materials and as a policy I do not sell masks that are symbolic of devils.


Vesak7This is the first time that I am having a stall to sell Vesak lanterns. I have always sold lanterns while staying at home. Kicked off the business  last week end and have enjoyed a good demand from customers, schools and companies. I have the approval of the CMC and the police and I had to pay Rs. 5700 for the stall. Apart from this I am a self- employed porridge seller. I have been making and selling Vesak lanterns since my childhood. The lanterns are sold at the lowest rate of Rs. 150 and upwards. We make big and ornamental Vesak lanterns on order.


Vesak8This business is run by my uncle. We use raw materials such as bamboo and also cardboard since they are environmental friendly. This year we expect our trade would flourish although for the time being business remains low.  We do sell masks but not devil masks. We have lanterns that are priced from Rs. 80 upwards.


Vesak9I make Vesak lanterns using artificial and natural materials. The cheapest price of a Vesak lantern at my stall is Rs. 125. I have also obtained the approval from the CMC, the police and environment authorities.

Vesak10Selling Vesak lanterns is a family business we have been engaged in for nearly fourteen years. We produce as well as purchase Vesak lanterns for sale. I use natural raw materials such as bamboo combined with cardboard for production since they are more environmental friendly. This is the only business I run and I have been able to earn a reasonable profit every time I sell lanterns. In order to sell lanterns one should obtain the approval from both the police and the Colombo Municipal Council. This requirement came into effect four years ago. A rental must be paid to the CMC based on the land area occupied by a stall. I had to pay Rs. 5000 to erect erecting a stall here.




Gangarama Vesak Zone

For the 8th time,  the “Buddha Rashmi National Vesak Zone” would be organised by the Gangarama Temple with the support of Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe and the Ministry of Defence on the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th of May. Speaking about the developments towards the upcoming event Ven. Galabodaththe Gnanissara Thera said that the Vesak zone  would be featured  to celebrate Vesak while enhancing people’s awareness and significance of Vesak regardless of religious differences.
Commenting about the event, the Thera said that this year there would be an art exhibition and a relics exhibition. He also said that the government and several private companies had made donations in cash and kind towards the event. The Vesak zone will be open to the public from 7.00 p.m. to 3.00 a.m. on the scheduled days.
The Coordination Secretary of the Prime Minister, Sagara Rathnayake said that the function was initiated by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and that the inauguration ceremony  would be graced by President Maithripala Sirisena and also the PM. Following the instructions of the Prime Minister, Temple Trees will be opened to the public on these days. He appreciated the support provided by the three armed forces and would be open that an exhibition of  around 70 Veask lanterns would be held around the Beira Lake.
Kirinde Assaji Thera said that this is not an occasion  to wear masks and be in a ‘party’ mood; instead he said people should spend Vesak in contentment while meditating on the true meaning of Vesak. He asked people to wear appropriate clothes when visiting the Vesak zone.
A platform will be thrown open for international creativity also and people from the international arena would get an opportunity to display their talents and skills in their creations for the Vesak zone.


Colombo Municipality

As the CMC celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, the creation of a “Vesak Kalapaya” in the municipality premises on the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th of May is in progress.
The municipality is also to hold an elegant Vesak lantern exhibition and a competition. A number of popular artistes would be performing on May 6 at the venue.