NZ Buddhists Celebrate Key Festival

May 10, 2009

Author: Kirsty Johnson

Source: The Buddhist Channel/Taranaki Daily News,8169,0,0,1,0

An influx of young Sri Lankan families has re-kindled the community's Buddhist culture in New Plymouth.

Around 30 families met last night in Lynmouth Park to celebrate Vesak, the biggest event on the Buddhist calendar, marked by a lantern festival held each year on the first full moon in May.

For Buddhists, Vesak is the date when Buddha was born, reached enlightenment and died.

In Sri Lanka, lanterns are hung throughout the cities for a week to celebrate the holiday, but in New Plymouth, the lanterns were only hung up last night.

Unfortunately the lights went off in the middle of processions and an electrician had to be called, but it only meant the lanterns looked more effective.

New Plymouth resident Rajib Sadikeen said for a long time, he and other Sri Lankans who had spent many years in New Plymouth had not bothered to get together for Vesak.

"This is all inspired by the new families. Since they came last year, they have started all these kinds of things," he said.

As only a few places in New Zealand, such as Auckland, had Buddhist temples, it was up to the individuals to practise the philosophy themselves, Mr Sadikeen said.