Our Guest From Sri Lanka
    Vesak is an interesting holiday.  It is Buddha's birthday and he died on the same day 80 years after he was born, so Buddhists also celebrate his passing into Nirvana.  Romola Rassool comes from Sri Lanka, which is an island that is south of India.  She is Muslim, but most people from Sri Lanka are Buddhists and they respect each other's religion.  Romola knew we liked to learn about different cultures so she came from the Global Classroom program at Metro International to talk with us.  She is in New York City studying at Columbia University.
    Buddhists believe that people are reincarnated and live many different lives before they pass into Nirvana, which is a place of peacefulness and rest.  So they think you should not spend your time worrying about money and trying to get lots of expensive things because you can't take them with you into the next life.  You shouldn't be selfish and greedy.  You should share with others.

    We saw pictures of the Buddha on the Internet.  The man who became the Buddha was named Siddhartha.  He was a prince in India and he was very rich.  But he decided that money did not buy happiness and he did not want to just become a king and live in a palace.  So he gave away all of his gold jewelry to the poor and spent his life praying and teaching about religion.  If you look at pictures of the Buddha you can see that some show him with very long ears.  That is because he used to wear very heavy gold earrings that weighed so much that they stretched his ears.

    Some pictures of Jesus show him with rays of light coming out of his head.  That symbolizes his ideas of how to lead a good life and it shows that other people want to learn his ideas and they believe in his religion.  They say that the Buddha was also enlightened, which means he had wisdom and other people wanted to learn from him.
    We made lanterns like Buddhists do to celebrate Vesak.  Romola helped us to tie wooden sticks into diamond shapes and cover them with bright colored paper with cut out designs.  Then we lit a candle inside to symbolize Buddha's enlightenment, just like Christians light candles in church when they pray to Jesus.  I enjoy learning about different religions and how people believe in God.
Linked Web Sites
Global Classroom, Metro International

Buddha Images

Tibetan Buddhism

Grade 5
Mr. Greenberg, Teacher
Public School 241
976 President Street
Brooklyn, New York 11225 USA