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Sri Lanka

06 May 2020

Vesak Day

Sri Lanka: Vesak 2564, 6 May2020. Images from eBay and SL Post Stamps.

Technical Specifications:

Bulletin # 985
Date of Issue: 2020-05-06
Denominations:  Rs10.00, 2 x 15.00, 45.00; Miniature Sheet Face Value: Rs70
Dimension of Stamps: 30mm x 41mm; State Vesak Festival: 60mm x 30mm
Sheet Composition: 20
Dimension of Miniature Sheet: 180mm x 110mm
Last Date of Sale: 2024-03-31
Print Color: Four process colours
Shape: Vertical
Print Quantity: 300,000 each stamp; Miniature Sheet Print Quantity: 15,000

Rs10.00 – Listening to Dhamma Preaching for Mental Well-Being

Rs15.00 – Preparation of Medicine

Rs45.00 – Nursing the Sick

Miniature Sheet

Rs15.00 – State Vesak Festival

Vesak (Pali: Vesākha, Sanskrit: Vaiśākha), also known as Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima and Buddha Day, is a holiday traditionally observed by Buddhists and some Hindus in South and Southeast Asia as well as Tibet and Mongolia. The festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment (Buddhahood), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism. In 2020, Vesak day fell on May 7 in Sri Lanka.

In the East Asian tradition, a celebration of Buddha’s Birthday typically occurs around the traditional timing of Vesak. The Buddha’s awakening and death are celebrated as separate holidays that occur at other times in the calendar as Bodhi Day and Nirvana Day.

The decision to agree to celebrate Vesak as the Buddha’s birthday was formalized at the first conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in 1950, although festivals at this time in the Buddhist world are a centuries-old tradition. The resolution that was adopted at the World Conference reads as follows:

That this Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, while recording its appreciation of the gracious act of His Majesty, the Maharaja of Nepal in making the full-moon day of Vesak a Public Holiday in Nepal, earnestly requests the Heads of Governments of all countries in which large or small number of Buddhists are to be found, to take steps to make the full-moon day in the month of May a Public Holiday in honour of the Buddha, who is universally acclaimed as one of the greatest benefactors of Humanity.

On Vesak Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate events of significance to Buddhists of all traditions: The birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha. As Buddhism spread from India it was assimilated into many foreign cultures, and consequently Vesak is celebrated in many different ways all over the world. In India, Vaishakh Purnima day is also known as Buddha Jayanti day and has been traditionally accepted as Buddha’s birth day.

In 2000, the United Nations resolved to internationally observe the day of Vesak at its headquarters and offices.

The name of the observance is derived from the Pali term vesākha or Sanskrit vaiśākha, which is the name of the lunar month used in ancient India falling in April–May. In Mahayana Buddhist traditions, the holiday is known by its Sanskrit name (Vaiśākha) and derived variants of it. In Sri Lanka, the speakers of Sinhalese call it වෙසක්, Vesak.

Vesak is celebrated as a religious and a cultural festival in Sri Lanka on the full moon of the lunar month of Vesak (usually in the Gregorian month of May), for about one week, and this festival is often celebrated by people of different religions in Sri Lanka. During this week, the selling of alcohol and fresh meat is usually prohibited, with slaughter houses also being closed. Celebrations include religious and alms-giving activities. Electrically-lit pandals called thoranas are erected in locations mainly in Colombo, Kandy, Galle and elsewhere, most sponsored by donors, religious societies and welfare groups. Each pandal illustrates a story from the Jataka tales.

In addition, colorful lanterns called Vesak kuudu are hung along streets and in front of homes. They signify the light of the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha. Food stalls set up by Buddhist devotees called dansälas provide free food, ice-cream and drinks to passersby. Groups of people from community organizations, businesses and government departments sing bhakti gee (Buddhist devotional songs). Colombo experiences a massive influx of people from all parts of the country during this week.

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