by Anura Guruge
‘Vesak‘ (also ‘Wesak‘) is the Buddhist equivalent of ‘Christmas‘, ‘Good Friday‘ and the ‘Pentecost‘ all rolled into one; i.e., three separate holy days celebrated on the same day — viz. the Full Moon day of May. So, per the Buddhist tradition, Buddha, i.e., Gautama Buddha, was born, attained enlightenment (meaning that he worked out that life was but suffering and the way to escape that was to reach the state of nirvana) and died on a Full Moon day in May — obviously years apart. Since full moons do not occur on the same day each month these three events would have occurred on different days — upto 3 weeks apart. Given that the Full Moon is as good a marker of events as any Buddhists over the centuries have been celebrating these three holy days on the Full Moon — though I don’t think many appreciate that the actual dates of these events have changed over the last 2,500 years.
I still can’t makeup my mind whether the Buddha was being considerate or selfish in rolling these three major holy days into one. But it sure makes for one heck of a holiday — especially in Sri Lanka. I will over the next few days try and do some other posts. But this is just to get us going for 2014.