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At the instigation of the late Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, Vesak Full Moon Poya Day has been declared as an International Religious Day. This was done because it is the most important day for the Buddhists world over, due to a number of religious incidents took place on this day.

Themagula - Three most auspicious occasions
In Sinhalese Te means three. Mangula denotes auspicious occasions of good fame. Due to three incidents i.e., the last birth of the Bodhisattva as prince Siddhartha, his enlightenment and parinibbana. Vesak Full Moon Poya Day is of special significance not only for the Buddhists in Sri Lanka, but also for those living in other Asian countries including Nepal, India, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand (Siam), Japan, China, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Tibet, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Pakistan, and many other countries in the Western world.

Last birth of Bodhisattva
The last birth of the Bodhisattva as prince Siddhartha took place on the Vesak Full Moon Poya Day, two thousand six hundred and eight years ago. He was born as the son of King Suddhodana of the kingdom of Kapilawastu and queen Maha Maya. The queen was on her way to her parental palace in Devdaha, and while she was resting at Lumbini Park under a Sal tree with a mass of followers when prince Siddhartha was born. It is said that immediately after his birth the infant prince had walked on seven Lotus flowers which emerged before him. The queen had proceeded back to Kapilawastu together with the new-born child. King Suddhodhana’s teacher, Saint Asita Kaladewala who visited the palace on the same day asserted that the blessed prince was to be the saviour of the universe and the teacher of everyone in all the three worlds. He said that the Bodhisattva was to attain Buddhahood enabling him to direct the universe to the path of emancipation.

First salutation of the father
The saint, who had developed meditation skills envisaged that he was due to die before the Enlightenment of the Bodhisattva, worshipped the new-born prince. The king who watched the behavior of his teacher realized that his son was superior to the saint, worshipped the Bodhisattva himself.
The prince was brought up in the royal palace in the lap of luxury leaving no room for him to realize the vanity of worldly life. The king was anxious to see his son becoming the Universal king envisaged by the learned Brahmins at the naming ceremony. The king’s Endeavour was to prevent the Bodhisattva from leaving the worldly life to attain Buddhahood in keeping with the words of saint Kondanna, who raised one finger and said that the prince was sure to attain the Buddhahood.

In spite of precautionary measures taken by the king, the prince came into direct contact with the stark realities of life, “Satara Pera nimiti” - a sick man, a decrepit old man, a corpse and a monk and he determined to become an ascetic. He left the palace leaving the luxuries including the crown, princess Yasodhara and the new born son, prince Rahula.

As a seeker of total emancipation, he struggled for seven years and ultimately with all his own efforts, he realized the truth. One happy Vesak night, as he was seated under the shade of the famous Pappola tree (Sri Maha Bodhi) at Buddha Gaya, with mind tranquilized and purified, in the fIrst watch he developed that supernatural knowledge which enabled him to remember his past lives “Pubbe-nivasanussati Gnana-” Remembrance of the past births.

In the Middle watch, he developed the clairvoyant supernatural vision dealing with the death and rebirth of beings, “Catupapata Gnana-”perception of the Disappearing and Reappearing of Beings.

In the last watch of the night, he developed the supernatural knowledge with regard to the destruction of passions - “Asavakkhaya Gnana” and comprehending things as they truly are, attained Perfect Enlightenment. - Samma Sambodhi.

As a human being, He served the universe and on a Vesak Full Moon Poya Dday He attained Parinibbana at Upavattana Sal Park in Kusinara showing, the world that nothing is permanent in the universe.

An excerpt from
‘The significance of Full Moon Poya Days for Buddhists’
by Gamini Jayasinghe

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