Celebrating Vesak or “Buddha Day”

Buddha’s Birthday known as Vesak Day is celebrated on various dates in spring throughout the world, and each Buddhist culture has its own traditions for the day. This year Vesak will be celebrated on 29th May – the first full moon in May.

On this day Buddhists all over the world celebrate the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddha, which traditionally are said to all have happened on the same day of the calendar throughout his life.

Do you know the birth story of Buddha? He was born in Lumbini, Nepal, while his mother stood holding onto a tree. Once born he is said to have taken seven steps forward after which a lotus flower arose from each footstep. He then declared that this was his last rebirth and that he would become an enlightened individual.

So how is Vesak celebrated?

  • In Sri Lanka you can find dansal or free food stalls that have anything from a parcel of fried manioc (a Latin American shrub), ice cream, coffee or rice and curry. Everyone’s welcome, whether rich or poor.
  • In South Korea, followers light lotus lanterns that cover the temples in remembrance of Buddha’s lotus footsteps.
  • In Indonesia, Buddhists light and release lanterns into the air while visiting the Borobudur temple.
  • In Taiwan, followers pour fragrant water over Buddha statues to symbolising a fresh start in life.
  • In Singapore, devotees set caged birds free on the Buddha’s birthday.

How would you celebrate the life of a man who attained perfect enlightenment?