5 things you didn't know about Vesak Day
How much do you really understand about Vesak Day? Here are some facts which you may not have known about this annual Buddhist celebration.
A day of joy, peace, and reflection, Vesak is observed by Buddhists in different parts of the world. However, it is traditionally celebrated by Buddhists in Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and other South East Asian countries.
Here are 5 things about Vesak Day which you probably didn’t know.
1. Vesak is the most significant day in the Buddhist calendar
Vesak day is the most important date in the Buddhist lunar calendar. It celebrates three major events in the life of the Buddha: his birth, his attainment of Enlightenment, and his passing into Nirvana. According to Buddhist scriptures, each of these occurred on a full moon in the lunar month of Vesak.
2. Doing good deeds is an essential part of the celebrations
On Vesak Day, Buddhists reaffirm their commitment to living a moral and compassionate lifestyle; many of them believe that performing good deeds on this particular day will multiply merit many times over. On this day, vegetarian meals are consumed and caged birds and other animals are released as a symbolic gesture of compassion. Showing kindness to those less fortunate than yourselves through acts of sharing food, blood donations, etc. are also part of the celebration. Good deeds like these, whether by individuals or temples, are known as “Dana.”
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3. Mahayana and Theravada Buddhists celebrate Vesak Day differently
Majority of Chinese Buddhists in Singapore are Mahayana Buddhists. Mahayana temples such as Phor Kark See Temple on Bright Hill Road, practise the “three-step, one-bow” ritual on Vesak Day, where devotees take steps on both knees, bowing at every third step as they pray for world peace, personal blessings, and repentance.
The Theravada Buddhists, mainly comprised of Singapore’s Burmese and Sri Lankan communities, worship at the Burmese Buddhist Temple at Geylang and the Sri Lankaramaya Temple at St. Michael’s Road, respectively. Here Vesak celebrations include the ritual of cooking a pot of rice in milk, reminiscent of Buddha’s last meal before his long fast toward enlightenment.
4. Anyone can join the celebrations
You don’t have to be Buddhist to celebrate Vesak. Head towards Singapore’s oldest Buddhist temple, Lian Shan Shuang Lin or The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, in the heart of Chinatown to observe the day.
5. Vesak Day in Singapore was only made an official public holiday in 1955
After World War II, the Singapore Buddhist Association led the petition to make Vesak Day an official public holiday. Subsequently, this significant day for Buddhists was made a public official holiday in Singapore in 1955. Since Vesak is celebrated according to the lunar calendar, the date on which it is celebrated changes from year to year, usually falling in the month of May or early June.
theAsianparent wishes all our Buddhist readers a very happy and blessed Vesak Day!