Sri Lanka is a small island located in the Indian ocean close to southern tip of India. Sri Lankans have a very rich cultural heritage with history of beyond 2500 years. Written chronicles and ancient artifacts shows many significant historical events associated with Buddha’s life time. Sri Lanka is also one of the few countries, where the “Therawada” Buddhism is the religion is practiced by majority of the population.
For two millennia Sri Lankan culture has been shaped by Buddhist views, and Sri Lankan new year is the most important cultural event in the Sri Lankan calendar. Traditionally, Sri Lanka had an agriculture-based society and Sri Lankans consider them selves very close to the nature. Therefore the Sri Lankan new year is celebrated on Month of April, when people have already harvested the crops and in-between the cultivation seasons. This time of the year, people are more relaxed and due to the seasonal changes (mid of spring) nature provides with up-beat atmosphere for celebration. Sri Lankans use this period to spend more time with family and friends, share the joy build new relationships and amend or renew existing relationships.
Chicago Buddhist Vihara, with a predominant Sri Lankan membership as the congregation, has been celebrating the Sri Lankan new year since Vihara’s inception. While our community is relatively small, we have a very diverse, talented and enthusiastic members who makes the Sri Lankan new year celebration a very memorable and joyful event every year.
Following is a typical agenda of Sri Lanka New Year Celebration.
The Sri Lankan New Year is a time of joy. On Srilankan New Year, games are played, such as “Blind Yogurt Eating,” “Balance the Lime on the Spoon,” “Pop the Balloon,” and “Musical Chairs”. Sri Lankan performances are directed by adults. There is singing, dancing, and performing. The adults sing Sinhala songs. Many of the adults choreograph the children’s dances. They are divided by age and sometimes gender. At the end of the event, the kids get presents.
– Sithara Gajapala & Amanda Randunna, Dhamma School 8th Grade