Location: Central Colombo, Sri Lanka (6°54'58.10"N 79°51'18.61"E )
Date: 17 May 2011, 7.40pm
Camera: Samsung Galaxy Mini phone camera
Vesak Day is a Buddhist holiday commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha. It is celebrated on different days by different countries due to the diverse nature of Buddhist cultures around the world. In most South East Asian countries, it is a public holiday. On Vesak day, Buddhists will visit monasteries to offer their prayers and to attend sermons. In Sri Lanka, a Buddhist-majority country, Vesak is celebrated over a week, though there are only 2 days of public holiday. Here, it is not only a religious holiday but also a cultural festival, dubbed the “Festival of Lights”. Alcohol and meat are not sold for at least 2 days (the public holidays) during this period. There will be brightly-lit pandols called toranas erected all over the major cities such as Colombo and Kandy. One will often see long queues of people at food stalls called dansälas, set up by Buddhist devotees providing free food and drinks. There will be fireworks in Colombo. The week is the brightest-lit and most festive everywhere in Sri Lanka.