Celebrated as the most important Buddhist festival, Buddha Day, also know as Wesak, Vesak, and others, celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. Celebrated on different days depending on the country and culture, most commonly on the full moon in May, except in a leap year when the festival is held in June.
Buddha Day celebrates the spirit of Buddhism by paying homage Buddha and his teachings. It is a day for Buddhists to celebrate and work towards gaining their own enlightenment as well. Believers aim to practice love, peace and good deeds on this day. Buddhist from all over the world celebrate in various ways many with similar traditions.
How to Celebrate Buddha Day
Buddha Day is celebrated by commemorating Buddha and all his teachings. The idea of the day is to bring happiness to others through good deeds and love.
People celebrate by cleaning and decorating their houses. They also go to temple to worship and bring flowers, candles and food to the monks. They listen to sermons and pay respect to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. Meditation and chanting are an integral part of this festivals. They also pour water on the statue of Buddha to remind them to purify their minds of selfishness and maliciousness. They also offer gifts to the Buddha out of admiration for Buddha and Buddhism. The food offered is often vegetarian because Buddhists do not like to kill any living thing. Often there are street processions and entertainment where statues of Buddha are decorated and often end the day with fireworks.
Sri Lankan Buddhists put up lighting depicting the Buddha's life.
In Singapore, Buddhists decorate temples and follow the tradition of setting caged birds free.
In Mahayana countries, like China and Japan, Buddhists pour water scented with flower petals over an image of the baby Buddha to purify their hearts.
Mahayana Buddhism (Vesak)
Traditionally, Buddha's Birthday is known as Vesak or Visakah Puja (Buddha's Birthday Celebrations). This celebration is called Vesak being the name of the month in the Indian calendar. Vesak falls on the full moon day in the month of Vaisakha (usually May or June).
Theravada Buddhism (Wesak)
Theravada Buddhism is the main religion in Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand where this day is known as Wesak.