Every year, hundreds of millions of people around the world commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. They visit temples, decorate their homes, hang vesak lanterns and, most importantly, seek out new ways to promote peace, happiness and harmony as the Buddha would do.
This year marks the first time that the internationally recognized United Nations Day of Vesak will be held in Sri Lanka. The holiday was first recognised by the UN in 1999 to acknowledge the contribution of Buddhism to the world, and has been held in Vietnam and Thailand ever since.
The three day long celebration will start off in Colombo and end in Kandy. A decorated area around Diyawanna will be on display leading up to the event on May 12th. There will be an academic conference at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall in Colombo on the 13th and a closing celebration in Kandy, which is set to include a Dalada Perahera. Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, and Nepali president, Bidhya Devi Bhandari, are set to be chief guests for the opening and closing ceremonies respectively. They will be joined by Sri Lankan delegates as well as representatives from over seventy countries and thousands of observing buddhists from around the world.
Coinciding with the Vesak celebration is the opening of the replica Sakya kingdom in Kahapola, Piliyandala. You can read about the replica kingdom and its inauguration in our article “THE UNVEILING OF THE SAKYA KINGDOM” here.