Sinhala and Tamil New Year
The Sinhala & Tamil New Year in Sri Lanka (Aluth Avurudda අලුත් අවුරුද්ද or Puthandu புத்தாண்டு) celebrates the end the harvesting season. The dawn of the New Year is based on the sun’s astrological movement from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries), bringing to an end the harvesting season. This festival is celebrated in the month of April and at this time the sun is directly above the island.
April is known as Bak in the Buddhist calendar and the people of Sri Lanka welcome the Sinhala & Tamil New Year with loud bursts of firecrackers. The Erabadu trees (Erythrina variegatea) are in full bloom during this period and everyone hopes for continued peace and prosperity.
Kandy Esala Perahera
Esala Poya is the night in which the Bodhisattva was conceived in the womb of his mother Queen Maha Maya. Esala Full Moon Poya is also the day in which Prince Siddhartha renounced his royal lifestyle. Esala Poya falls in the month of July and is a very important day for Buddhist devotees. Esala Poya is a holiday in Sri Lanka and families visit the many Temples situated around the island to offer flowers and pay homage to Lord Buddha, who preached many valuable sermons about the ideal way of life for all living beings.
Queen Maha Maya and King Suddhodhana did not have any children for twenty years. One Esala Full Moon night she dreamt that she was carried by Devas to a lake where they bathed and anointed her with perfumed oils. Then a white elephant with six white tusks and carrying a white Lotus flower in its mouth appeared and circled the Queen three times after which he entered her womb from her right side. The Queen awoke then and realized that she had been given a very important message. Ten months later she gave birth to Prince Siddhartha who went on to attain Enlightenment and become the Buddha.
It was on yet another Esala Full Moon day that Prince Siddhartha, at the age of 29, renounced his royal title along with his luxurious lifestyle and left his father’s palace seeking the truth and searching for a means to end universal suffering. Accompanied by some of his followers he led the life of an ascetic and strove to attain Enlightenment. He subsequently returned to the palace seven years later as the Buddha. The day he left the palace was also the day his only son, Prince Rahula was born.