Vesak or Visakha is an important day for the followers of Buddhism, it is a time for rededication. The day when Gotama Buddha`s birth, enlightenment, death and his achievement of Nirvana are celebrated with lots of fervor. The festival is also popularly known as Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti. Generally celebrated in the month of May, the festivities take place on a full moon night (the legends say that Buddha`s mother, gave birth to him on such a day).
Though the exact date of Buddha`s birth is unknown, the decision to celebrate Vesak was taken at the First Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists in 1950 in Sri Lanka. However, in Buddhist tradition,Vesak had been celebrated for a long time. Today, in almost all the Asian countries, this day is a public holiday.
Devotees are enjoined to make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind and are encouraged to partake of vegetarian food for the day. Though celebrated in different ways in different parts of the world the essence of the celebration is the same everywhere. On this auspicious day, all the Buddhist monks and devotees are expected to gather in various Buddhist temples before dawn. Then the followers hoist the Buddhist flag and sing hymns to praise the sacred Triple Gem: The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings), and The Sangha (his disciples).
Devotees bring simple offerings like flowers, incense sticks and joss sticks (These symbolic offerings are to remind followers that just as the beautiful flowers would wither away after a short while and the candles and joss-sticks would soon burn out, so too is life subject to decay and destruction).
Also on this holy day, birds, insects and animals are released by the thousands in what is known as a ‘symbolic act to liberation’; of giving freedom to those who are in captivity, imprisoned, or tortured against their will. Some devout Buddhists will wear a simple white dress and spend the whole day in temples with renewed determination to observe the observance of the Ten Precepts. Another remarkable aspect of Vesak is that on this special day efforts are made to bring happiness to the poor, aged, sick and handicapped. The Eightfold Principles of Buddha are once more presented before the world. It is that time of the year when devotees need to remind themselves about these principles and live up to them.
The core reason to celebrate Vesak is to propagate love, peace and universal brotherhood. To live in peace, it is important to free one`s mind of the defilements and Vesak is the right time to make a resolution for creating a better world by following Buddha`s principles.
Vesak festival celebration:
- In 2009 / Saturday, May 9th.
- In 2010 / Friday, May 21st.
- In 2011 / Tuesday, May 10th.
- In 2012 / Saturday, April 28th.