Vesak & Climate Change

The path to enlightenment, or at least some free ice cream, in Dehiwala.

Vesak, a Buddhist holy day, is celebrated in most Buddhist countries on the day of the full moon during May. It is a commemoration of the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. Sri Lankans take the celebration up a few notches than most. Vesak in Sri Lanka is a cultural festival where cities are illuminated, homes and streets are adorned with handmade lanterns, and dansals (food stalls) are set up by residents in every neighbourhood to distribute free food and/or drink to revellers and passers by.

The city is transformed at night as people throng the streets to check out the elaborately designed lanterns, giant pandals, (temporary structures that are erected during the festival. These are heavily decorated and illuminated with enough flashing lights to attract extra-terrestrial visitors). Overall, it’s a spectacular event, possibly trippy, and tempts you to dive in to the somewhat guilty pleasure of snacking all evening on a whole range of free offerings handed out on the street.

2014 to me felt like there was more ice cream than ever before. It’s the most free ice cream I’ve ever had in a 3-day period, which not-surprisingly left me with the sniffles. Is it the global warming? Should I be even reading into the abundance of ice-cream at all? I don’t know.

Well, take a stroll, see the lights, watch the people, enjoy the watered down drinks, get your ice-cram on, and with the right mix of patience, determination and desperation, maybe land yourself a spot at one of the dansals that have a full on dinner menu. And be warned, if you suffer from Frustrated Motorist syndrome, you best not be behind the wheel when the festivities kick in. Or maybe sit on that clutch and hope that somewhere in the midst of chaos and commotion, you find order and enlightenment.


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