What is Vesak and how it’s celebrated?

By Remitbee - May 26, 2021

Vesak also known as Sanskrit Vaishakha, Pali Vesakha, Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Buddha Day, the most important of the Theravada Buddhist festivals, observe on Wednesday, May 26 this year. It commemorates Siddhartha Gautama who is known as Buddha, his birth, enlightenment, and death. Throughout his life, all of these significant incidents are said to have occurred on the same day.

Many Southeast Asian countries observe the day as a public holiday. It is distinguished by special devotional services and various meritorious acts, such as presenting food or alms to monks or releasing captive birds. According to the lunar calendar, the holiday is normally observed during the first full moon in May. Vesak is observed on various dates by different customs due to the differences in Buddhist culture.

During this time in Sri Lanka, several religious activities are organized. Buddhists worship, give flowers, light lamps, and burn incense in temples. Apart from the religious aspects of the festival, Sri Lankan Buddhists decorate their homes and public places with colorful lanterns called Vesak lanterns, which are hanged along streets and in front of homes, and organize various cultural activities to bring happiness to everyone on that day. Toranas, or electrically lit pandals, are erected in a variety of places, primarily in Colombo, Kandy, Galle, and elsewhere.

Vesak is also a time of great joy and happiness, which is conveyed not by feeding one's appetites but by focusing on useful things such as decorating and lighting temples, painting, and making beautiful scenes from the Buddha's life for public display. Devout Buddhists compete with one another to provide refreshments and vegetarian food to devotees who come to pay homage to the Enlightened One at the temple.

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