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Colourful Buddhist calendar for Vesak

R.S. Karunaratne

The calendars issued during the previous years depicted wall paintings of temples created by Sri Lankan painters. However, the calendar issued this year features four paintings highlighting certain aspects of the Buddha's life. The paintings are created by Kalasuri Jayasiri Semage, a local artist of international repute.

The four paintings that adorn the Vesak calendar will depict the birth of Prince Siddhartha, the Great Renunciation, Sujatha's presentation of milk-rice and the Enlightenment. The water colour paintings carefully done following his traditional style were presented recently for the President's approval.

Out of the four paintings, the Enlightenment stands out as a unique creation. The traditional paintings of the Enlightenment have followed one set pattern. For instance, they show how the Buddha sits under the Bodhi tree while gods worship Him from above.

However, Semage has deviated from this style. His painting shows how the Buddha lights up the whole world with His Enlightenment. Even birds, such as peacocks, trees and creepers turn towards the Buddha paying their homage.

The calendar will be valid from the month of Vesak this year up to that of the next year. The paintings will be printed in colour on art paper making them suitable for framing.

Kalasuri Jayasiri Semage has earned reputation for being a Buddhist painter. About ten years he constructed a pandal depicting the then President's Dasaraja Dharma. For nine consecutive years he put up a pandal in front of the Temple Trees during President R. Premadasa's regime.

A few years ago he was picked to put up a giant Buddhist pandal in Japan. In addition, he is credited with the creation of Buddhist murals at Mangala Vihara in Singapore.

He also created a large picture of Borobudur to mark Vesak in Singapore. Once Semage was engaged in a painting depicting the Buddha's Dhammadesana to his five pupils to be deposited at Man-fat-Lam Chinese temple in Singapore.

It was an oil on canvas painting. He also drew all the important events of the Buddha's life for a book on Buddhism.

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