Each year, it is with great enthusiasm that small children get ready for the most sacred Vesak festival celebration in Sri Lanka. It is the most important religious event for Buddhists around the world. The Buddhists commemorate the three most important life events of lord buddha; the birth, enlightenment and the death; which all happened on Vesak poya days, centuries ago.
Children love celebrating Vesak with their families and friends. Making lanterns and pandols, organizing ‘dansals’ have been one of their favorite activities in childhood. These activities would also become those fond memories to cherish later in their lives.
Particularly, friends in the neighborhood get together during the Vesak festival. Together they select a ‘jathaka‘ story for the pandol, then pick main events of it and then draw those themslves which then put up in a sequence on the pandol.
Why a sequence for the picture ? obviously because the visitors from neightbourhood can easily understand the depicted story in the pandol while listening to a narrated ‘viridu’ (lyrics) being sung in the background. The kids seek their father’s help for putting up bulbs on the pandol.
Finally, the lit pandol in the night gives much more light into their hearts, something surely brighter than the bulbs within the lanterns. That made me think the light inside the lantern resembles one’s lightened mind with compassion……
Sadly, due to prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation worldwide, Sri Lanka too could not celebrate Vesak festival for its second consecutive year this time. Due to the precautionary travel restrictions being imposed countrywide during this year’s Vesak season, children could not do their usual preparations along with friends. Instead, they seek more help from parents this time.
Next I would also like to mention about a little story of a vesak lantern we made together. The idea filled us with curiosity and joy when we thought to make a vesak lantern using fabric. Wow ! Usually, children do use colorful kite papers for this purpose, something we couldn’t buy early from a book shop this time.
Instead, we recalled that we had some colors of cotton fabric at home that also matches with the Buddhist flag colors…… oh Great!!! Adding more to the enthusiasm, we had four colors (except yellow) ….. Yay!
Since, we already had a lantern frame with us; of a ‘Atapattama’ shape, we jotted down a fabric pattern for the lantern to be made. A patchwork pattern seemed to be the good choice for what we wanted. Then we cut lengthy stripes of similar sizes from each fabric color. Then stitched the stripes together by alternating colors, which made it to be like four separate squares of same size.
Having done it in the simplest form but with much happiness, we decided to use white fabric for frills and the rest of the triangle shapes needed for the ‘atapattama’ lantern. Why, because we wanted it to look charm while still gives out a bright light through the fabric. Done !
Then came the time to put it up in the evening. Whoa !
oh … what a calm feeling it seemed to trigger in mind along with a wish; “May the sufferings of all living beings comes to an end ……. ” !!!