And the lights and especially the lanterns of Vesak kiss the land like millions and millions of fireflies big and small, and the countryside at night glitters.
Today, all over the Buddhist world, people celebrate the life of the Buddha from birth to Nirvana with lights and lanterns decking houses, lighting up gardens private and public alike. I have it from a good friend in Colombo that the days are bright and warm and sunny now, and the city is festive and beautifully arrayed in the spendour of lanterns and lights.
And wherever you travel in Sri Lanka at this time, there is celebration everywhere you go, from the very serious to the joyful and fun.
But there is especially one Vesak Poya which I just cannot forget because it was something not that I had experienced, but found written, on a placard at the Loolecondera plantation.
Loolecondera is an endearingly special place and I regard it with depth of a fondness which I can't rightly place. I walked about this tea plantation, wondering, alone with my thoughts in the peace and quiet of a hot spring day and it was not too dry. The early mists of the morning still hovered and clung to the green, which, in the heat, lent a sweet pungency to the atmosphere. Especially that of tea. Tea and sweet earth and tea and flowers and something familiar like the sweet aroma of lime tree blossoms filled me with such potency that I felt as though I was in a dream, walking there.
Sunshine, Saris, they
Pick tea, glinting, like gems in
An emerald sea.
Here I was at Loolecondera and feeling rather overwhelmed. This is the very first tea plantation in all of Sri Lanka. James Taylor planted the first tea bushes here in 1867. And, to this day, tea is still being plucked from some of the original bushes which he planted as seedlings, and sent with rest of the harvest to the Colombo auctions . Imagine sipping a cup of tea that connects you to the hand of James Taylor himself! If one ever has the good fortune of travelling to Sri Lanka, go to Loolecondera and stay a while. Say nothing. Only feel. And on this Vesak Poya, I would like to add the words of one I had copied down because when I read this on it's modest signpost there, no one could have written a better, more thoughful piece than this stranger who has touched the hearts of all who have been there:
Ode to James Taylor
I felt the presence in his own domain
As of a lord and master, or power under God,
Thinkest not of me as having left
For once again, I see the beautiful
Green tops of Loolecondera tea plants,
Standing in endless array unmoved
By the strong winds, and fearless
Of the strange sounds they make
Often shy when touched
By tender fingers of a loving hand.
May you all protect the cherished land
The salubrious environment and what
It contains – I too, riding on
High clouds that float from over
The sacred Sri Pada ( Adam's Peak) shower
My blessings and protection to all
But those who ravish the sacred soil.
- A Very Happy Vesak Day to everyone. And may the Universe be with you always.with love from a cloudy cool Edinburgh on Vesak Day, 17 May, 2011,