Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Vesak that I missed, is that really Vesak or a show of entertainment?

 When I snuck off to Minneriya over the Vesak holidays, people asked me why, as I would miss all the light shows in Colombo. Living on Gregory’s Road which completely lit up with lanterns as there is a Temple just up from where I am and then right along Wijerama is also lit, to say nothing about Bauddhaloka Mawatha, which is just a flash of light along and across like you have seen nothing yet!

Then to the Town Hall, and Nelum Pokuna decorated for the first time, and then walk along to the Gangarama, and Sirasa and Beira area and it is just a carnival of lights with thousands of people from all over converging to see the lights and the Vesak lantern competitions, where the first prize is an expensive motor vehicle.

Each year these Vesak Lanterns get even more sophisticated, and the show gets more widespread with the lights around the Beira incredible with its gaudy cacophony of colors, and quantity to dazzle anyone.

If it is all part of the massaging of the minds, to forget our daily hussle to feed our families, then I suppose it achieves the objective. If it is to remind the people of the true significance of Vesak, then where I went to was more real here was surreal! We had a sow dansal in the village and a few local small events, whilst the line of Minneriya Army camps provided us with the Vesak Lantern competition which drew crowds from around, all in tractor loads bursting at the bulges with humanity. 

 It reminded me of the irony, where now Trishaws can only carry 3 people at the back, and so soon the 20 people packed in a trailer of a hand tractor to see Vesak will also be a thing of the past. So let us enjoy it while it lasts!

There is no small amount of money spent to make this show, and it is pure entertainment for the masses and I cannot think it means anything more. The time and effort for the few days of show, is a huge commitment by all those engaged on the various projects of building the pandols and lanterns.

I wonder considering the hunger, more Dansalas and less light, would probably save a few hungry bellies this Vesak season.

Even tonight, that is the 10th of May I can still go and see some of the lights here and there, but I do not have the urge to see a display of extravagance when there are more issues to be concerned about. It is a kind of escapism of the mind to take our minds of daily events to indulge in this but when the state constantly tells us they do not have the funds and that we must tighten our belts through this period, it does not tally with the huge amounts of money being spent on this spectacle.


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