Over twenty five hundred years ago, Siddhartha Gautama was born in Lumbini in the Sakya kingdom of what is now Nepal. And though Siddhartha was born into royalty and sheltered from suffering, he was inevitably exposed to sights of others’ pain. What he saw changed him so much that he spent much of his life seeking a way to reduce suffering and extremities in life. His search eventually brought him to enlightenment that he shared with the world. His teaching eventually became Buddhism and is followed today by hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
Then in the late twentieth century a Sri Lankan foreign minister named Lakshman Kadirgamar worked with the United Nations to found a holiday that would recognize the contributions made by the Buddha and Buddhism over the last two millennia. The day eventually became the United Nations Vesak Day. This day has been celebrated internationally for the last thirteen years by millions and is a catalyst for peaceful action around the world. Vesak is the annual celebration of the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. In Sri Lanka, the holiday is held on the poya day in the month of Vesak (usually May or June in the Gregorian calendar).
Finally, this week marks the opening of the replica Sakya Kingdom in Kahapola, Piliyandala. The replica kingdom has been built to commemorate the first UN Vesak celebration to be held in Sri Lanka since the international holiday’s inception. The kingdom is located on a 78 acre piece of land and includes e-library facilities, media stations and meditation centers.
Along with the Vesak celebrations, there will be an inaugural festival held at the kingdom on the 11th, which has been cooperatively organized by The Light of Asia Foundation, the Ministry of Buddhasasana and the National Film Corporation.
Photo taken from http://sakyakingdom.org