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The information, activities, recipes and stories on this page have been reproduced from the OpenSezMe book Summer by Shirley West. This book is full of excellent resources for pre-school and is one of a set of four covering each of the seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. These books are available from Open Sez Me Books. We were so impressed we bought a complete set !
What is Wesak ? 

Wesak or Vesakha is one of the most important festivals in the Buddhist calendar and takes place on, or near to, the May full moon.

The festival celebrates celebrates the three most important events in the life of Buddha: his birth and death day, and the moment when he learnt the truth about life and how to avoid suffering.

The celebrations last for three days. Houses and shrines are decorated with flowers, candles and lanterns, Special offerings are made to statues of the Buddha and there are processions in the streets.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A YOUNG BUDDHIST

A story to read

Gotama is a monk and he is only nine years old. His day starts at five o'clock in the morning with a drink and reading a book about his teachings of Buddha.

He washes in the open air with cold water before attending the morning service, after which he can finally have his breakfast.

Dressed in orange clothes, he goes off with his friends in single file to the local villages to collect food. In return for the food they offer prayers to the villagers.

When Gotama gets back he offers the food to the Lord Buddha, then the food is shared amongst everyone.
 

 

After the evening meal Gotama reads once again the teachings of Buddha till late in the evening. He has to read out loud all the time so that the priest can hear him.

As the evening falls, the bell is rung and the Abbot leads the young monks in their final meditation. As they sit crossed-legged and with their eyes closed, he asks them to remember the words of Buddha:

'I have revealed to you as many things as there are leaves in a great tree. But as many things have been revealed to me as there are leaves in a forest.'

With this prayer Gotama's day has ended and he is ready for sleep.
 

 

THE LIFE OF BUDDHA

Buddha was the son of a king in Northern India called Sakya. His mother was called Queen Mahamaya. She had a baby and named him Siddharta, which means wish fulfilled. His mother died when he was only seven years old.

When he grew up, Siddharta married, and had a son. But one day he decided to leave the life of a prince and rode off on his horse Kanthaka until he came to the river Anoma. There he cut off his long hair with his sword and changed his royal clothing for the orange robe of a beggar. He changed his name to Gautam and lived in an Ashram which is a place of meditation.

In order to learn about suffering he hardly ate. In the summer he would stay out in the burning sun, and in winter he bathed in icy water. At the age of thirty-five he became enlightened as the full moon of Vesakha (May) was setting. He became known as The Fully Enlightened One or Buddha and taught his beliefs for over forty years. 
The Buddha's teaching was not concerned with God but with how people can live in harmony. He said that human wants and desires were the basis of all suffering. If people gave up their desires they would no longer suffer.
WESAK ACTIVITIES & CRAFTS
THINGS TO DO

Tibetans and Nepalese use bright colours in their painting because they believe colours symbolize different parts of the mind. A circle known as a mandala is used as an aid for concentration. This helps the mind to reach enlightenment.
 

MAKE A MANDALA

YOU WILL NEED 

Large round sheet of white paper, bright powder paints, glue.

METHOD

1. Draw the circles on the sheet of paper as shown.

2. Glue the inner circles and sprinkle each one with a different coloured powder paint.
 
 

Suggested Songs: Sinhales Lullaby, from A Musical Calendar of Festivals, published by Ward Lock Educational.
 

HAND GESTURES IN BUDDHIST ART

Teach the children these gestures of the hands and fingers. In Buddhist art these have special meanings, and are called mudras.

Turning the Wheel of the Law 
One hand is raised in a gesture of protection, while the other hand grants a wish.
The hands are 'calling the earth to witness'.
When Buddha became enlightened he touched the earth
This is the gesture of teaching.
The Golden Buddha 
 
A large golden Buddha
In a golden temple stands 
With a tiny lotus flower 
Held in his golden hand. 
His eyes are full of wisdom,
There's a smile upon his face. 
He teaches people about freedom, 
And of his love for the human race.

By Shirley West 

COOKING
EIGHT TREASURE RICE (Babao Fan) 

Traditionally this is served at any festive occasion. This rice must contain eight treasures or charms to banish evil spirits away. When the eight treasures are considered to represent the eight lotus petals of Buddhism, the recipe will include lotus seeds. In this case, the dish is known as Ba Bao ('lotus seed') Fan. The treasures may include sweet beans, dates, almonds, peanuts, melon seeds, raisins, dried apricots, walnuts. 

YOU WILL NEED 

2 cups rice 2 tablespoons margarine 3 tablespoons brown sugar any dried fruits and nuts 

METHOD 

1. Wash the rice and boil until tender. Drain and stir in the margarine and sugar. 

2. Grease the bottom and sides of a pudding basin and arrange alternate layers of cooked rice with fruit and nuts. Press the fruit and nuts so that the colours will show when the dish is turned out. 

3. Cover with foil and steam the pudding for 40 minutes. Turn out on to a serving dish and decorate with nuts. 
 

VEGETABLE PARATHA 

All Buddhists are vegetarian. 

YOU WILL NEED 

450 g (1 lb) plain wholemeal flour
120-175 mls (4-6 fl oz) water
melted margarine 
grated raw cauliflower 
pinch of salt

METHOD 

1. Mix the flour and salt together and make a well in the centre. Gradually add enough water to make a soft dough and knead well until no longer sticky. Divide into 16 portions. 

2. Roll each portion into a ball and make a depression in the middle. Press a teaspoon of cauliflower into the depression and shape the dough into a ball to enclose the filling. Carefully roll out into 8 cm (3") circle. 

3. Gently heat a frying pan. Cook each paratha on each side for 2 minutes then add a teaspoon of margarine and let it melt over the surface. Turn until golden brown either side. Cook the remaining parathas and stack them on top of each other in a clean tea towel.

 

All Text and Illustrations copyright Shirley West & Open Sez Me Publications
under5s - wesak
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