Sri Lanka will commemorate the celebration of lights this year by tying it up with the 2600 year ‘Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi’ festivities which marks the 2600th year since the Enlightenment of Lord Buddha.
Known as the holiest day for Buddhists around the world, Vesak which celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha will take a special tune this year with the government revealing plans to commemorate 17 May and days following it with special events aimed at taking the message of Buddhism forward.
The ‘Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi’ festivities organised by the Light of Asia Foundation Sri Lanka, along with the state will start the day following Vesak and will go on till Sunday. Festival Director Saman Weeraman attached to the Light of Asia Foundation outlined that the ground work for celebrations started as early as 2008 with an International Buddhist Film Festival which saw a number of participants from all over the globe. This year the organisers have received over 250 entries for the film festival, Weeraman said.
“The film festival has steadily gained popularity over the past two years in the international community. In 2009 we received 141 entries from Sri Lanka and another 76 from other countries. Last year (2010) we received 225 entries out of which 165 are from small scale local film producers,” he said.
This year will also see a large scale ‘Cinema Dansala’ with over 25 films being showcased in 10 large screens set up in BMICH. Weeraman stated that this unique Dansala will go on from 18 - 22 May. A walk has also been organised titled ‘Sambudu Pelahara’ which will see 25 floats showcasing the important incidents that led to the Enlightenment of Lord Buddha, travelling from the BMICH to the Independence Square.
Several religious and cultural shows have also been organised from 18 - 20 May as well as a Buddhist photography exhibition from 18 - 22 May.
A ‘world Buddhist monuments and artefacts exhibition’ will also be held at Sirimavo Bandaranaike Hall where embassies and high commissions will showcase interesting monuments and artifacts related to Buddhism and culture.
A Buddhist meditation and seminar is also planned to be held from 19 to 21May.
Weeraman stated that the main highlight of the ‘Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi’ is a film titled ‘Siddhartha the Buddha’ which has been kept under wraps for four years.
The film which has been made after extensive research has been filmed in Sri Lanka. The ‘Kingdom of Sakya’, a permanent ‘film set’ for the Epic Motion Picture ‘built at the Manelwatte Temple in Kelaniya will also be opened for public viewing.
Weeraman stated that Nepal, Thailand and India had volunteered to build the film set which had cost over Rs. 40 million.
Sambuddhatva Jayanthi Year declared
President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared the 2600th Sambuddhatva Jayanthi Year at the historic Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi at Anuradhapura on Saturday (14).
The Sambuddhatva Jayanthi Year will be from May 17, 2011 this year’s Vesak Poya (Full Moon) Day to next year’s Vesak Poya Day. The President also declared open the 2600th Sambuddathva Jayanthi commemoration monument at the Anuradhapura town and named the road leading to the monument as Sri Sambuddathva Jayanthi Mawatha.
Four stamps to commemorate the Sambuddathva Jayanthi were also issued at Saturday’s ceremony, at Anuradhapura. These stamps depict locations such as, Lumbini, Buddha Gaya, Isipathana, and Kusinara in Nepal and India, where significant events in the life of the Buddha took place. The first day covers of these stamps were offered by the President to the Maha Sangha. The government has declared 14- 21 May as the Vesak Week to coincide with the 2600th Sambuddathva Jayanthi celebrations.