The Origins and Practices of Holidays: Vesak

May 19, 2019 — Vesak Day 

Vesak, also known as Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, and Buddha Day, is a holiday observed by Buddhists and some Hindus. It commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as Buddha. All these important events are said to have happened on the same day throughout his life. The holiday is usually observed during the first full moon in May according to the lunar calendar. However, due to the diversity of the Buddhist culture, Vesak is celebrated on different dates by different traditions.

Buddhists celebrate Vesak by decorating their temples with flowers and other decorations.They gather at these temples before dawn for the raising of the Buddhist flag while singing hymns. Buddhists are also allowed to bring simple offerings to lay at the feet of their teacher. Some temples display a small statue of the Buddha in front of the altar in a small basin filled with water and decorated with flowers, allowing people to pour water over the statue. This is referred to as the bathing of the Buddha. It is a symbol of cleansing bad karma, and a reenactment of the events following the Buddha's birth, when devas (gods) and spirits showered him with sacred waters from the sky. Vesak is also celebrated with charity work and acts of kindness by Buddhists. It is also expected that they refrain from killing of any kind therefore, they are encouraged to eat vegetarian food for the day. 

Learn more below.


The Buddha

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