Vesak day is the Buddha Birthday
Vesak Day which is the 15th day in the 4th month of Chinese lunar calendar.
Vesak Day in Thailand is called Visakha elsewhere may 5th which is the 15th day in the 4th month of Chinese lunar calendar. Vesak is celebrated by Buddhist around the world, and in different manners all over the world. Though some countries occasionally use different date for this festival, many would fall on the same day.
The exact date of Vesak Day varies according to the various lunar calendars used in different countries and traditions. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on the full moon Uposatha day (typically the 5th or 6th lunar month). Vesak Day in China, Hong Kong and Macau is on the eighth of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. Thus the date varies from year to year, but as general consensus in many countries, falls on the full-month day in May.
The decision to agree to celebrate the Vesak as the Buddha’s birthday was formalized at the first Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in 1950, although festivals at this time in the Buddhist world are a centuries-old tradition. The Resolution that was adopted at the World Conference reads as follows:
“That this Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, while recording its appreciation of the gracious act of His Majesty, the Maharaja of Nepal in making the full-moon day of Vesak a Public Holiday in Nepal, earnestly requests the Heads of Governments of all countries in which large or small number of Buddhists are to be found, to take steps to make the full-moon day in the month of May a Public Holiday in honour of the Buddha, who is universally acclaimed as one of the greatest benefactors of Humanity.”
Vesak Day Around The World
Vesak Day is often referred to with other names in each country. Official names of Vesak Day are Vesākha, Vesak, Wesak, Waisak, Visakah Puja, Vaishaka, Buddha Purnima, Visakha Bucha, Saga Dawa, 佛誕 (fó dàn), Phật Đản, and วิสาขบูชา
In Mahayana Buddhist traditions, the holiday is known by its Sanskrit name, वैशाख Vaiśākha, and derived variants of it. Vesākha is known as Vesak or Wesak (衛塞節) in the Sinhalese language.
It is also known as:
* बुद्ध पुर्णिमा/বুদ্ধ পূর্ণিমা Buddha Purnima or बुद्ध जयंती/বুদ্ধ জয়ন্তী Buddha Jayanti in India, Bangladesh and Nepal
* 花祭 (Hanamatsuri) in Japan,
* 석가 탄신일 Seokka Tanshin-il (Hanja: 釋迦誕身日) in Korean (Korea),
* 佛誕 (Mandarin: Fódàn, Cantonese: Fātdàahn) in Chinese-speaking communities in China, Singapore, Taiwan.
* Phật Đản in Vietnamese (Vietnam),
* ས་ག་ཟླ་བ། Saga Dawa (sa ga zla ba) in Tibetan (Tibet),
* (Kasone la-pyae Boda nei), lit. “Full Moon Day of Kason,” the second month of the traditional Burmese calendar (Burma)
* វិសាខបូជា Visak Bochéa in Khmer (Cambodia),
* ວິຊຂບູຊ Vixakha Bouxa in Laotian (Laos)
* วันวิสาขบูชา Visakah Puja, Vesakha Puja, or Visakha Bucha in Thai (Thailand),
* Waisak in Indonesia,
* වෙසක් පසළොස්වක පෝය Vesak / Wesak in Sri Lanka and Malaysia
The Vesak Day is an extremely important occasion observed in Singapore. Huge crowds will usually assemble at various Buddhist temples around the city. Inside the Buddha temples the monks chant sacred hymns and a large number of devotees set caged-birds free. Setting the imprisoned birds free is considered as a graceful gesture which serves as a mark of respect to all living creatures in the world. On this day, Singapore Buddhist youths organize blood donation camps and distribute gifts to the poor people. During the evenings, candlelit processions are found walking across the streets of Singapore and this is how the festival is ended.
You can observe the Vesak Day festival in Singapore for free as people can enter the temples free of charge. Some of the best points in the city for observing the festivities of Vesak Day in Singapore are the Buddhist Lodge at River Valley Road, The Thai Buddhist Temple at Jalan Bukit Merah and Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple at Jalan Toa Payoh.
The Singapore Vesak Day is always celebrated in the month of May and is a yearly event.
Hari Waisak in Indonesia
Hari Waisak celebrations in Indonesia generally follows the decision of The World Fellowship of Buddhists. Hari Waisak 2012 in Indonesia will be celebrated on . Traditionally, the celebration is focused nationally on the complex of Borobudur Temple in Central Java.
Rituals of national Waisak (Vesak) celebration in Indonesia usually observe following ceremonies:
1. Taking blessed water from the spring of Jumprit in Temanggung Country and torch ignition with the eternal flame of Mrapen, Grobogan County.
2. “Pindatapa” ritual, a ritual of giving food to the monks by the congregation to remind that the monks had devoted his life without livelihoods.
3. Meditation on the peak of the full moon. Determination of the full moon is based on the calculation of astronomy, so that the peak of the full moon can also occur during the daytime.
Besides the three main ceremonies, other Waisak ceremonies that were also conducted are pradaksina, parades, and art events.
Wesak Day in Malaysia
Wesak Day is the most important festivals of the Buddhists in Malaysia and fall in the month of May.
Vesak is celebrated to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha because according to Buddhists, all the three events took place on the same lunar date.
The Wesak day celebrations begins much before the dawn when the Malaysian Buddhist devotees gather in Buddhist temples for worship all over Malaysia. The Buddhists will then hoist the Buddhist flag and sing hymns in praise of the holy triple gem namely; The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings) and The Sangha (his disciples). The celebration is done with prayers, chants, offerings and giving alms. Simple offerings are also brought to the temple such as flowers while prayers using candles and joss-sticks are used.
The Buddhist eat a vegetarian diet prior to the festival in order to cleanse and purify themselves. Animals such as doves and tortoises are released by the Malaysian Buddhist devotees on the Wesak Day as a symbolic gesture of releasing the soul and giving up the past sins. Besides that, this particular act is also seen as a way of giving freedom for those that are held against their will or being tortured. Free meals are also given to the needy on the Wesak Day.
Wesak in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka the Wesak Festival is celebrated as a religious and a cultural festival in Sri Lanka on the full moon of the month of May, for two days. In Sri Lanka, Wesak 2012 will be celebrated .
During these two days, the selling of alcohol and flesh is prohibited by government decree. As a symbolic act of liberation, birds, insects and animals are released in huge numbers.
Celebrations include various religious and alms giving activities. Electrically lit pandols called toranas are erected in various locations in Colombo and elsewhere, most sponsored by donors, religious societies and welfare groups. Each pandol illustrates a story from the 550 Jataka Katha or the 550 Past Life Stories of the Buddha.
In addition, colourful lanterns called Vesak koodu are hung along streets and in front of homes. They signify the light of the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha. Many devout Buddhists wear simple white dresses on Vesak Day and spend the whole day in temples with renewed determination to observe the observance of the Eight Precepts of Buddhism.
Vesak celebration also means making special efforts to bring happiness to the people in more straightened circumstances. Food stalls set up by Buddhist devotees called dansälas provide free food and drinks to passersby. Groups of people from various community organisations, businesses and government departments sing bhakti gee or Buddhist devotional songs. Colombo experiences a massive influx of public from all parts of the country during this week.
Buddha Purnima in India
In India, Vesak Day is known as Buddha Purnima. On this day, Buddhists do not eat meat. This is considered an act of compassion towards animals. People are encouraged to perform other acts of kindness such as sharing food with the poor. Some people even set up road stalls providing free, clean drinking water. Buddha Purnima 2012 will be celebrated
Birth of Buddha or Tathagata is celebrated in India, especially in Sikkim, Ladakh , Arunachal Pradesh, Bodh Gaya and Maharashtra (where 6% of total population are Buddhists) and other parts of India as per Indian calendar. Buddhist People go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, as something like a service. The usual dress is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Gautama Buddha’s life, offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge.
The Buddhists bathe and dress only in white clothes. They gather in their viharas (monasteries) before sunrise to worship Buddha, offer alms to the bhikshus (monks), hoist the Buddhist flag, and sing hymns admiring the sacred triple treasure: The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings), and The Sangha (his disciples).
Many devotees offer flowers, candles, and joss sticks at the feet of the monks. Such a ritual allows a Buddhist to reflect on the truth that just as the magnificent flowers shrink and the candles and joss sticks burn out in short time, our life span is too short and will decay soon.
Several followers listen to the continuous speech on the life and preaching of the Buddha throughout the day or request monks to come to their homes. Buddhist monks recite 2500 years old verses obtained from Buddha and urge people to respect other religions.
Hanamatsuri in Japan
In Japan, Vesākha or hanamatsuri (花祭) is also known as: Kanbutsu-e (灌仏会), Goutan-e (降誕会), Busshou-e (仏生会), Yokubutsu-e (浴仏会), Ryuge-e (龍華会), Hana-eshiki (花会式). It is not a public holiday. It is based on a legend that a dragon appeared in the sky on his birthday and poured soma over him.
It used to be celebrated on the 8th day of the fourth month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, based on one of the legends that proclaims the day as Buddha’s birthday. At present, the celebration is observed on April 8 of the Solar Calendar since the Meiji government adopted the western solar calendar as the official calendar. Since the 8th day of the fourth month in the lunar calendar commonly falls in May of the current solar calendar, it is now celebrated about a month earlier. Thus in Japan, 2012 Vesak Day will be celebrated
In Japan, the general populace are not practicing Buddhists (and may be called casual Buddhists), so most Buddhist temples provide a way to allow the general public to celebrate and participate in only the aspect of the day being Buddha’s birthday, providing the statue of baby Buddha and allowing the populace to worship or pay respect by pouring ama cha, a tea made of Hydrangea. In Buddhist temples, monasteries and nunneries, more involved ceremonies are conducted for practicing Buddhists, priests, monks and nuns. Also, there are public festivals made out of the day in some areas.
Visakha Bucha in Thailand
In Thailand, where majority of the population are buddhists, the nationwide festival of Vesak Day is held to pay tribute to the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. The Vesak Day will fall on, however celebrations can be seen for more than a week.
In Thailand, people will congregate around the Buddhist temples to pray and give thanks to the deity on the Vesak Day. Monks dressed in their saffron robes will lead sermons and services throughout the day, with candlelit processions often taking place once night has fallen.
Buddha Poornima in Nepal
The birth of the Buddha is often celebrated by Buddhists in Nepal for an entire month in the Buddhist calendar. The actual day is called Buddha Poornima (or Buddha Purnima), also traditionally known as Vaishakh Poornima. In Nepal, Buddha Poornima 2012 will fall
The event is celebrated by gentle and serene fervour, keeping in mind the very nature of Buddhism. People, especially women, go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, as something like a service. The usual dress is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Gautama Buddha’s life, offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge after he had given up the path of asceticism following six years of extreme austerity. This event was one major link in his enlightenment.
It is said that the Buddha originally followed the way of asceticism to attain enlightenment sooner, as was thought by many at that time. He sat for a prolonged time with inadequate food and water, which caused his body to shrivel so as to be indistinguishable from the bark of the tree that he was sitting under. Seeing the weak Siddhartha Gautama, a girl named Sujata placed a bowl of milk in front of him as an offering. Realizing that without food one can do nothing, the Buddha refrained from harming his own body.
Buddha Birthday in China, Hongkong and Taiwan
In the Chinese speaking countries of Hongkong, China, as well as Taiwan, the Vesak Day called Guanfo (bathing the Buddha) or Yufo (Buddha’s birthday celebration featuring washing Buddha image with perfumed water). The celebrations begin before sunrise and devotees throng the temples early at dawn to meditate. Chanshi (the ceremony of chanting the sutras and confession and prayer) is practiced by monks.
As the day progresses, Buddhist devotees visit orphanages, welfare homes, homes for the aged and charitable institutions to distribute cash donations and gifts to the needy. On this occasion, caged birds are freed to symbolize humanity and compassion.
The celebration is also marked with the devotees performing the “bathing Buddha” ritual where they held a wooden ladle and poured water over a small statue of the Buddha. Bathing a statue of the Buddha symbolizes a fresh start in life and the care given to newborn babies.
Legend has it that when the historical Buddha, Prince Siddhartha, was born, there were auspicious signs heralding his birth. They describe the sky as blue and clear on his birth, with dragons spurting purified water to bathe him. Since then, Buddhists have celebrated his birthday by using fragrant water to bathe the image of Buddha.
In these East Asia countries, Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. Thus in 2012, the Buddha birthday falls on
Buddha Birthday in South Korea
In Korea the birthday of Buddha is celebrated according to the Lunisolar calendar. This day is called 석가탄신일 (Seokga tansinil), meaning “the day of Buddha’s birthday” or 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim osin nal) meaning “the day when Buddha arrived”. Lotus lanterns cover the entire temple throughout the month which are often flooded down the street. On the day of Buddha’s birth, many temples provide free meals and tea to all visitors. The breakfast and lunch provided are often sanchae bibimbap. In 2012, South Korea has celebrated the Buddha Birthday on