May 26 marked this year’s Vesak Day, the full-moon of May that commemorates the Buddha’s Birth, Enlightenment, and Final Passing (Parinibbana). It is a major, sacred occasion in the annual Buddhist calendar, observed throughout the Buddhist world. With Tisarana situated at some distance from the Asian heartlands of Theravada, our celebrations contained improvised as well as traditional features.
Due to Covid restrictions this year’s gathering was modest in size. Supporters arrived earlier in the week with many flower pots to adorn shrines. Residents and others devoted hours to trimming grass and clearing flower beds. On Vesak itself Luang Por Viradhammo, the Bhikkhus, and resident community received cheerful assistance from day-visitors bringing more gifts. Groups of us busied ourselves arranging flowers and candles. Within a few hours the various shrines had been tidied and beautifully adorned: the large standing Buddha near Tisarana’s entrance; the cast Buddha rupa (eventually bound for the Dhamma Hall); the library-shrine room in the Bhikkhu Vihara; the meditation and eating Sala. Even the small Bodhi tree (gamely struggling with spider mites, alas) was decorated.
The following photos offer glimpses of our Vesak. At different junctures of the evening itself Luang Por read from Ven. Nyanamoli’s The Life of the Buddha, dealing with the Blessed One’s Birth, Enlightenment, and Parinibbana. Along with the readings and our period of sitting meditation, we chanted The 28 Buddha’s Protection. Before the concluding reading from the Mahaparinibbana Sutta the community silently walked outside to chant and pay respects to the outdoor shrines in the waning light and just minutes before the moon rise.