With the arrival of Vesak, lanterns are made especially for the offerings made by the Tathagatas several days before Poya Day. The unique culture of making Vesak lanterns is inherited only by our country uniquely. It is a unique cultural element of Sri Lanka. In the past, Vesak lanterns were made using natural materials such as bamboo and coconut shells, but now people are accustomed to using plastic lanterns for their convenience. The collected plastic is separated mechanically into small pieces. The plastic pieces are used as raw material to create these plastic chandeliers. After the Vesak lanterns are decomposed and broken, people release them into the environment without any inquiry. Thus, the environmental damage caused by the use of plastics is immense. Our great Gautama Buddha was a man who loved nature with great devotion. He preached to protect the environment around us. So is it appropriate for us to harm nature during the Vesak festival celebrated by thousands of Buddhists in remembrance of such a great tribute to the Supreme Buddha? Is it appropriate to use plastic items for Vesak celebrations? It is worth thinking about, not once or twice, but a hundred times.
For the past forty-five years, Sri Lanka has been preaching the Dhamma and following the path to alleviating suffering to the suffering creatures. Avoidance is our responsibility. Instead, we can create wonderful Vesak lanterns using items that are not harmful to Mother Nature. In this Vesak, we are committed to protecting nature more than ever. Let’s celebrate the great Vesak festival with love and respect as the way the Buddhists taught us.
Faculty of Arts
University of Peradeniya