Exploring The Different Rituals And Traditions of Vesak
Every year, Buddhists and some Hindus from all over the world celebrate Vesak or Visakha. This is the most important ceremony or celebration for this religion that commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment (Buddhahood), death (Parinirvāna) and passing into nirvana. Every year, it is celebrated on the full moon during the month of May, which varies from year-to-year and in various regions. This year, Vesak will be celebrated on the 29th of May, but, it may be celebrated on various dates in the month because of regional variations.
Vesak celebrations are considered a time for one to rededicate themselves to the teachings of Buddha. The significance of this day lies with the Buddha and the message of peace that he brought mankind. Buddha’s night of enlightenment is recalled, how from him came the most profound knowledge and insight.
In the three periods of his night of enlightenment, Buddha saw his multiple previous lives, how beings die and are reborn in different forms depending on their Karma, and the arising and cessation of all phenomena, both mental and physical. He realized full enlightenment when he perceived the arising and cessation of suffering and lack of satisfaction, and how this paved way for the eradication of all cravings.
Temples all over Southeast Asia are cleaned and decorated with lights and lanterns and lay devotees and monks meditate and chant through the night. Outside San Diego, practitioners and monks of the At Metta Forest Monastery attend a candle-lit procession where they make offerings, chant, and sit and meditate through the night. The celebrations conclude the following morning when a meal prepared by the laypeople is presented to the monks.
The Vesak is a period for honoring the Buddha, dharma (cosmic law and order), and Sangha (community) and also a time to recommit to the practice of Buddhism. It is a time for monks to recite verses and for devoted followers to not only meditate and understand the scriptures but also do acts of charity.