23 June 2013

Vesak Day!

I can't believe it's been almost one month since Singapore celebrated Vesak Day. I feel like this magical holiday just happened! Can you tell how behind I am in my blog posts? So much has been going on! Luckily I am almost caught up!

Vesak Day is Buddha's birthday and a national holiday in Singapore. So I had the day off from school. This year it fell on a Friday, meaning a happy 3-day weekend. I hadn't realized what a giant holiday this was until the Wednesday before, when I was walking home from school. I glanced in the window of the temple where the big deity resides to find piles and piles of beautifully handcrafted lanterns. I noticed a lady inside cutting brightly colored tissue paper, so I ducked in to take a peek.

She told me that the priest himself had carved the foam gate (pictured in the top image, above) and designed the pattern for the paper lanterns. And she was the one cutting the patterns out of the hundreds of paper lanterns you see here. Each lantern had 4 large sides and 8 small sides, so that was a lot of cutting!

Over the course of several weekdays, they had strung up lots and lots of flags, all of the lanterns, and twinkly lights. Everywhere I looked there was bright color! It was truly fantastic!

Candles and incense were all over the place for visitors to light. And realizing it might rain--it rains everyday here, so I'm not sure how this might be a surprise--volunteers were out in full force on Thursday, the night before, bagging up the lanterns so that they could still hang, but they wouldn't get ruined.

It did rain for most of the day, but it did not deter anyone from the celebration. And the paper lantern party went off without a hitch.

I didn't actually participate in the lantern making. Being that I make things all the time, I signed up to just to take pictures. I was more interested in the process for future projects anyhow. 

Each person was given paper to shape, paint, and glue together. The flame was attached after the constructed paper was completely dry. A small piece of filament was tied to each lantern so that they were able to be brought back down and properly thrown away when the flames went out.

It really creates a beautiful visual, with the colored papers filling the night sky. 

Back at the home front, the temple was packed. Cars were trapped coming to and from, and lots and lots of honking had begun to take place.  

A precessional of people dressed in white started behind the temple and wrapped around the building, each person carrying some sort of gift or offering. People lined the fences to watch. I was right there with them.

The whole day--start to finish--was amazing, a gorgeous spectacle! I can't wait until next year . . . I want to be a part of the processional for sure!

No comments:

Post a Comment