Vesakh The Highest Buddhist Holiday

Around the world Buddhist celebrate Vesakh

Buddhists around the world celebrate the Vesakh festival in memory of the birth, the enlightenment (Nirvana), death (Parinirvana) and the end of the rebirth of the Buddha. Originally from the tradition of Theravada Buddhism, the festival is celebrated on the first full moon day in the month of Vesakha – May or June. Depending on the calendar system used and local customs, the date of the festivities in Southeast Asia varies. Since 1999, Vesakh has been recognized by the United Nations as an official holiday.

Vesakh day is popular day in Hindu calendar. Buddhist, also called as Buddha Purnima in India has been popularly seen as an occasion across the world. The festival also includes the full moon fasting and the puja ceremony. In this worship of the Buddha, the participants of the festival sing prayers in their temple or meditate. Many feel very close to Buddha and ask for forgiveness of mistakes. They hope their mind will be cleansed and strengthened.

In the Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Myanmar) and Sri Lanka, Vesakh is the biggest festival of the year. The international Buddhist flag is hoisted, people fast, dress in white and visit monasteries to listen to monks’ discourses.

On this highest Buddhist holiday, Buddhists should be given special devotion: The monasteries receive donations, pilgrims and poor people get something to eat. Prisoners are pardoned to Vesakh, animals, especially birds, are released. The latter should take into account the Buddhist effort to act for the benefit of all beings in the world.

Many people fast on the occasion of the Vesakh festival and dress in white. On this day, special care is taken to observe the five Buddhist commandments (Sila). So only vegetables are eaten, sexual self-restraint practiced and no alcohol consumed. Particularly devout Buddhists also renounce their soft bed, perfume and jewelry in honor of Buddha and spend the whole day in the temple listening to sermons. Also charitable commitment to needy people and monasteries are customary for this occasion.

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