Vesak Day

When did the Vesak Day start?

The first recorded date of Vesak Day being celebrated on May 13 was in the year 322 BCE.

About Vesak Day Holiday

Vesak Day, or Visakha Bucha Day in Thailand, is an important Buddhist holiday that is celebrated throughout the country on May 23rd each year. It marks the three most important events in the life of the Buddha – his birth, enlightenment, and his death. During this day, people pay deep respect and homage to the teachings of the Lord Buddha, and it is also used as an occasion to reflect on the principles of his life and practice them in their own.

On Vesak Day, Buddhist temples are filled with worshippers as people go to seek out solace and inner peace. Morning prayers and chants, burning incense and offering of solet candles, as well as prayers for peace and the alleviation of suffering are commonly seen. People congregate at the temples and offer donations of food for the monks and the Buddhist Sangha (community).

In the evening, many temples are decorated with colorful paper lanterns and lighted candles symbolizing the teachings of the Lord Buddha. Many Thais also abstain from eating meat, and participating in activities or consuming items that are deemed immoral such as alcohol. Vesak Day also marks the beginning of the vibrantly colorful Buddhist Lent period with its own rituals and festivities. It is a time when families come together to celebrate and pay homage to the teachings of the Lord Buddha and his precious legacy.

Vesak Day, May 23 – A Comprehensive Guide

Vesak Day is a major Buddhist holiday celebrated by the worldwide Buddhist community. It marks the three main events of Buddha’s life: his birth, his enlightenment and his death. The festival is celebrated on different dates in different parts of the world, but most largely on the full moon day of the Indian month of Vaisakh, or May 23.

History and Origin

Vesak Day was first celebrated in India in the year 567 BCE to commemorate the Birth of Gautama Buddha, also known as “the Enlightened One” by curious seekers from all parts of the world. Later on, around the 1st century BCE, the festival expanded to reach myriads of cultures, countries, and peoples. Emperor Ashoka, the Maurya king, helped to expand the tradition throughout his alliance of nations.

Significance and Meaning

Vesak Day is a commemoration of the miraculous and inspirational moments from the life of Gautama Buddha that charmed the minds of his devoted students and monks. Celebrated with contemplation, prayer, and meditation, those present often imagine the stories of the Buddhas life and teachings to remind themselves of the importance of virtue, forbearance, and morality.

To the Buddhists, Vesak Day is the holiest day of the year in honoring the grace and joy of the enlightened one- Gautama Buddha. It is an opportunity to practice meditation, contemplation, and become more aware of the surrounding environment and the joys of life. This is a time to reflect upon our thoughts and feelings and create positive changes in our lives that can bring about the path to enlightenment.

Traditions and Celebrations

Vesak Day is one of the four major observances among the Buddhist religion that’s celebrated worldwide. There is a variety of traditional customs for the day that vary by culture. Generally, large processions are organized, with cities, towns, and villages decorating the streets with bright lanterns and banners. People wear traditional clothes, visit temples, and chant the verses and hymns about the Enlightened One’s life and teachings.

In countries that use the Theravada tradition, Vesak Day is often devoted to almsgiving, with Buddhists making donations of food and material goods. Special religious services are also conducted with monks conducting sermons in temples, leading worshippers in prayer, and making offerings at shrines and temples.

Geographical Spread

Though Buddhism began in India, across the centuries it spread all over the world. There are now nearly 500 million adherents who practice Buddhism in various parts of the world. Despite the geographical spread, Vesak Day celebrations remain largely the same among Buddhists all over the world. Each country where it is celebrated has its unique traditions, with colorful festivals and activities that just make it more special.

In China, the festival is called Buddha’s Birthday, Zhong He Jiu, or Tuen Ng. Just like in India, decorations, processions, and many other festivities abound. People visiting temples are expected to contribute money or goods to the poor. In Southeast Asia, staying in the monasteries for a few days is a common practice. In Japan, it’s called Hana Matsuri or the “Flower Festival”, with people offering fruits, drinks, flowers, and vines as offerings to the deity.

Modern Day Observations

Vesak Day is celebrated widely around the world. Countries such as India, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Burma, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mauritius, and Myanmar celebrate it in a big way, often hosting several days of festivities.

Today, the festival is celebrated by many even in countries where the majority of the population does not practice Buddhism. In some regions of the world such as Europe, North America, and Australia, Vesak Day is celebrated with traditions like lantern parades and special dinners.

Interesting Facts Trilogy

1. The word ‘Vesak’ when translated into English roughly means ‘to commemorate’ or ‘to remember.’

2. Buddhists generally honor this special day by abstaining from entertainment and pleasures and by dedicating the day to religious activities like pagoda visits, meditation, or scriptures reading.

3. The United Nations has officially recognized Vesak Day as a Global Observance since 1999.

Conclusion

Vesak Day is one of the most important and sacred days to Buddhists around the world. Whether one celebrates the day in India, China, Vietnam, Burma, Sri Lanka, or in the United States, Vesak Day is an opportunity to bring people together in contemplation, reflection, and meditation. It is a time to celebrate the grace and joy of Gautama Buddha and share his teachings of peace and enlightenment.

How to Say "Vesak Day" In Different Languages?

Burmese
ဝါဆာက္ဒ္ (my-MM)
Hindi
वेसक दिवस (hi-IN)
Indonesian
Hari Vesak (id-ID)
Japanese
べサークの日 (ja-JP)
Khmer
ថ្ងៃវេសាក្រ (km-KH)
Lao
ວັນເວັຊັກ (lo-LA)
Malay
Hari Vesak (ms-MY)
Mandarin
洗裟日 (zh-Hans-CN)
Sinhala
වැසක් දිනය (si-LK)
Taiwanese (Hokkien)
洗衫仔節 (nan-TW)
Thai
วันวีสัก (th-TH)
Vietnamese
Dịp Vesak (vi-VN)
Vesak Day Also Called
Vesak Day is also known as Buddha Purnima, Visakha Puja, and Buddha Jayanti.
Countries where "Vesak Day" is celebrated:

FUN FACT:
In year 322 BCE, Vesak Day is celebrated on May 13 for the first time.

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Global Times: Lunar New Year listed as UN floating holiday, indicating increasing global recognition of Chinese culture: expert

Global Times: Lunar New Year listed as UN floating holiday, indicating increasing global recognition of Chinese culture: expert

BEIJING, Dec. 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The 78th United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on Friday, officially designating the Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, as a UN floating holiday. Experts said the move shows the influential power of Chinese culture and will contribute to the promotion of the Global Civilization Initiative. “This decision indicates an increasing global recognition of China’s culture and its influence,” Zheng Changling, secretary-general of the China Folk Culture Innovation and Development Center and research fellow at the Chinese National Academy of Arts, told the Global Times on Sunday. According to a post by the UN News on Friday, this resolution “recognizes the significant importance of the Lunar New Year and…

Source: Benzinga
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