Vesak

Vesak (Pali: Vesākha, Sanskrit: Vaiśākha), also known as Buddha Jayanti,[6] Buddha Purnima and Buddha Day, is a holiday traditionally observed by Buddhists and some Hindus on different days in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, and in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam as "Buddha's Birthday" as well as in other parts of the world.[7] The festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment (Buddhahood), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada or southern tradition.[8]

Vesak
Vesak Day 2555
Vesak Day celebrations at Borobodur in Java, Indonesia
Official nameVesak, Vesākha, Buddha Purnima, Buddha Jayanti, Vaisakha, Vaishakhi Purnima
Also calledBuddha's Birthday or Buddha Day
Observed byBuddhists and some Hindus in South and Southeast Asia and in East Asia (as Buddha's Birthday)
TypeReligious
SignificanceThe birth, enlightenment and death (parinirvana) of Gautama Buddha
ObservancesMeditation, observing the Eight Precepts, partaking of vegetarian food, giving to charity, "bathing" the Buddha
DateFull moon of the month of Vesākha, usually in April (first), May or June (last)
2018 date29 April
(Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar and Bangladesh)
30 April (India, Nepal)
29 May (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)[1]
2019 date19 May
Frequencyannual
Related toBuddha's Birthday
Other related festivals
Laba Festival (in China)
Rohatsu (in Japan)

History

The birth of the Buddha; scene with Queen Maya Wellcome V0046076
Queen Maya holds onto a branch of a tree while giving birth to the Buddha, who is received by Śakra as other gods look on.

The decision to agree to celebrate Vesak as the Buddha's birthday was formalized at the first conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in 1950, although festivals at this time in the Buddhist world are a centuries-old tradition. The resolution that was adopted at the World Conference reads as follows:

That this Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, while recording its appreciation of the gracious act of His Majesty, the Maharaja of Nepal in making the full-moon day of Vesak a Public Holiday in Nepal, earnestly requests the Heads of Governments of all countries in which large or small number of Buddhists are to be found, to take steps to make the full-moon day in the month of May a Public Holiday in honour of the Buddha, who is universally acclaimed as one of the greatest benefactors of Humanity.[9]

On Vesak Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate events of significance to Buddhists of all traditions: The birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha. As Buddhism spread from India it was assimilated into many foreign cultures, and consequently Vesak is celebrated in many different ways all over the world. In India, Vaishakh Purnima day is also known as Buddha Jayanti day and has been traditionally accepted as Buddha's birth day.

In 2000, the United Nations resolved to internationally observe the day of Vesak at its headquarters and offices.[10]

The name of the observance is derived from the Pali term vesākha or Sanskrit vaiśākha, which is the name of the lunar month used in ancient India falling in April–May. In Mahayana Buddhist traditions, the holiday is known by its Sanskrit name (Vaiśākha) and derived variants of it. Local renditions of the name vary by language, including:

  • Assamese: বুদ্ধ পূর্ণিমা Buddho Purnima
  • Bengali: বুদ্ধ পূর্ণিমা Buddho Purnima, বুদ্ধ জয়ন্তী Buddho Joyonti
  • Dzongkha: སྟོན་པའི་དུས་ཆེན་༥ འཛོམས་ Dhüchen Nga Zom
  • Burmese: ကဆုန်လပြည့် ဗုဒ္ဓနေ့ "Full Moon Day of Kason"
  • Mon: တ္ၚဲကျာ်ဗုဒ္ဓ ဗပေၚ်ပသာ် "Buddha Day Full Moon of Pasāk"
  • Chinese: 佛陀誕辰紀念日; pinyin: Fótuó dànchén jìniàn rì, 佛誕 (Fódàn, Birthday of the Buddha), 浴佛節 (Yùfójié, Occasion of Bathing the Buddha), 衛塞節 (Wèisāi jié)
  • Hindi: बुद्ध पूर्णिमा Buddha Pūrṇimā, बुद्ध जयन्ती Buddha Jayantī, वैशाख पूर्णिमा Vaisākh Pūrṇimā
  • Indonesian: Hari Raya Waisak
  • Japanese: 花祭り Hanamatsuri (Flower Festival)
  • Khmer: វិសាខបូជា Visak Bochea
  • Kannada: ಬುದ್ಧ ಪೌರ್ಣಮಿ Buddha Pournami
  • Korean Korean석가 탄신일; Hanja釋迦誕辰日; RRSeokka Tanshin-il (Birthday of the Shakyamuni Buddha), Korean: 부처님오신날 (Buddha's Day)
  • Lao: ວິສາຂະບູຊາ Vixakha Bouxa
  • Malay: Hari Wesak (هاري ويسق)
  • Mongolian: Бурхан Багшийн Их Дүйцэн Өдөр (Lord Buddha's Great Festival Day)
  • Marathi: बुद्ध पोर्णिमा Buddha Pornima
  • Nepal Bhasa: स्वांया पुन्हि Swānyā Punhi
  • Nepali: बुद्ध पुर्णिमा Buddha Purnima, बुद्ध जयन्ति Buddha Jayanti
  • Odia: ବୁଦ୍ଧ ପୂର୍ଣ୍ଣିମା Buddha Purnimā
  • Sinhala: වෙසක් Vesak
  • Tamil: விசாகத் திருநாள் Vicākat Tirunāḷ
  • Tagalog: Araw ni Buddha
  • Telugu: బుద్ధ పౌర్ణమి Buddha Pournami or alternatively వైశాఖ పౌర్ణమి Vaisakha Pournami
  • Thai: วิสาขบูชา Wisakha Bucha
  • Tibetan: ས་ག་ཟླ་བ།, THL: Sa Ga Dawa
  • Vietnamese: Phật Đản (Birthday of the Buddha)

Celebration

There is usually one full moon in the month of May, but as there are 29.5 days between full moons, occasionally there are two. If there are two full moons during the month of May, some countries (including Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Malaysia) celebrated Vesak on the 1st, and others (Thailand, Singapore) celebrated the holiday on the 31st because of a different local lunar observance. The difference also manifests in the observance of other Buddhist holidays, which are traditionally observed at the local full moon.

Likewise, in 2012, Vesak was observed on 28 April in Hong Kong and Taiwan, on 5 May in Sri Lanka, on 6 May in India and Bangladesh, on 28 May in South Korea and on 4 June in Thailand. (In 1999, the Taiwanese government set Buddha's birthday as the second Sunday of May, the same date as Mother's Day.[11][12]). In 2014, Vesak is celebrated on 13 May in Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand while it is observed on 15 May in Indonesia.

On Vesak, devout Buddhists and followers alike assemble in their various temples before dawn for the ceremonial and honorable hoisting of the Buddhist flag and the singing of hymns in praise of the holy triple gem: The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings), and The Sangha (his disciples). Devotees may bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks to lay at the feet of their teacher. 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. Devotees are enjoined to make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind. They are encouraged to partake of vegetarian food for the day. In some countries, notably Sri Lanka, two days are set aside for the celebration of Vesak and all liquor shops and slaughter houses are closed by government decree during the two days.

Also birds, insects and animals are released by the thousands in what is known as a 'symbolic act of liberation' of giving freedom to those who are in captivity, imprisoned, or tortured against their will. (The practice, however, is banned in some countries such as Singapore, as it is believed that the released animals are unable to survive long-term and may adversely impact the local ecosystem if they do.)[13]

Some devout Buddhists will wear a simple white dress and spend the whole day in temples with renewed determination to observe the eight precepts.

WesakDay
Young novice monk on Vesak Day Parade

Devout Buddhists undertake to lead a noble life according to the teaching by making daily affirmations to observe the Five Precepts. However, on special days, notably new moon and full moon days, they observe the eight precepts to train themselves to practice morality, simplicity, and humility.

Some temples also display a small statue of the Buddha in front of the altar in a small basin filled with water and decorated with flowers, allowing devotees to pour water over the statue; it is symbolic of the cleansing of a practitioner's bad karma, and to reenact the events following the Buddha's birth, when devas and spirits made heavenly offerings to him.

Devotees are expected to listen to talks given by monks. On this day, monks will recite verses uttered by the Buddha twenty-five centuries ago to invoke peace and happiness for the government and the people. Buddhists are reminded to live in harmony with people of other faiths and to respect the beliefs of other people as the Buddha taught.

Bringing happiness to others

Video Korean Buddhist monks perform ritual dances and music on Buddha's Birthday.

Celebrating Vesak also means making special efforts to bring happiness to the unfortunate like the aged, the handicapped and the sick. To this day, Buddhists will distribute gifts in cash and kind to various charitable homes throughout the country. Vesak is also a time for great joy and happiness, expressed not by pandering to one's appetites but by concentrating on useful activities such as decorating and illuminating temples, painting and creating exquisite scenes from the life of the Buddha for public dissemination. Devout Buddhists also vie with one another to provide refreshments and vegetarian food to followers who visit the temple to pay homage to the Enlightened One.

Paying homage to the Buddha

Tradition ascribes to the Buddha himself instruction on how to pay him homage. Just before he died, he saw his faithful attendant Ananda, weeping. The Buddha advised him not to weep, but to understand the universal law that all compounded things (including even his own body) must disintegrate. He advised everyone not to cry over the disintegration of the physical body but to regard his teachings (The Dharma) as their teacher from then on, because only the Dhamma truth is eternal and not subject to the law of change. He also stressed that the way to pay homage to him was not merely by offering flowers, incense, and lights, but by truly and sincerely striving to follow his teachings.

Dates of observance

The exact date of Vesak is based on the Asian lunisolar calendars and is primarily celebrated in Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar and the Hindu calendar, and hence the name Vesak. In Nepal, which is considered the birth-country of Buddha, it is celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Hindu calendar, and is traditionally called Buddha Purnima, Purnima meaning the full moon day in Sanskrit. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on a full moon Uposatha day, typically in the 5th or 6th lunar month. Nowadays, in Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, Vesak/Buddha Purnima is celebrated on the day of the full moon in May in the Gregorian calendar. In Thailand, Laos, Indonesia and Vietnam, Vesak is celebrated on the fourteenth or fifteenth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. In China, and Korea, Buddha's Birthday is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, in Japan the same day but in the Gregorian calendar. The date varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years it may be celebrated in June. In Bhutan it is celebrated in 15th day of fourth month of Bhutanese calendar based on lunar calendar.

In the following table, year numbers in the range 2500–2599 are BE (Buddhist Era).

Year
(CE)
Thailand[14] Singapore[15] Laos Myanmar Sri Lanka[16] Cambodia[17] Indonesia[18] Nepal, Bangladesh &
India[19][20][21]
China Malaysia[22] Vietnam[23] Bhutan[24]
2001 7 May 2544 7 May 6 May 2545 7 May 2545 7 May 2545 7 May 2545 7 May 30 May 7 May 6 June
2002 26 May 2545 27 May 26 May 2546 26 May 2546 26 April 2546 26 May 2546 26 May 19 May 26 May 26 May
2003 15 May 2546 15 May 15 May 2547 15 May 2547 15 May 2547 16 May 2547 16 May 8 May 15 May 15 May
2004 2 June 2547 2 June 3 May 2548 4 May 2548 3 May 2548 3 June 2548 3 May 26 May 3 May 2 June
2005 22 May 2548 23 May 22 May 2549 23 May 2549 22 May 2549 24 May 2549 23 May 15 May 22 May 22 May
2006 12 May 2549 12 May 11 May 2550 12 May 2550 12 May 2550 13 May 2550 13 May 5 May 12 May 12 May
2007 31 May 2550 31 May 31 May 2550 30 April 2551 1 May 2551 1 May 2551 1 June 2551 2 May 24 May 31 May 31 May
2008 19 May 2551 19 May 18 May 2551 19 May 2552 19 May 2552 19 May 2552 20 May 2552 20 May 12 May 19 May 19 May
2009 8 May 2552 9 May 8 May 2552 8 May 2553 8 May 2553 8 May 2553 9 May 2553 8 May 2 May 9 May 9 May
2010 28 May 2553 28 May 28 May 2553 27 April 2554 27 May 2554 28 April 2554 28 May 2554 27 May 21 May 28 May 28 May
2011 17 May 2554 17 May 17 May 2554 17 May 2555 17 May 2555 17 May 2555 17 May 2555 17 May 10 May 17 May 17 May
2012 4 June 2555 5 May 5 May 2555 5 May 2556 5 May 2556 5 May 2556 6 May 2556 6 May 28 April 5 May 5 May
2013 24 May 2556 24 May 24 May 2556 24 May 2557 24 May 2557 24 May 2557 25 May 2557 25 May 24 May 24 May 24 May
2014 13 May 2557 13 May 13 May 2557 13 May 2558 14 May 2558 13 May 2558 15 May 2558 14 May 13 May 13 May 13 May
2015 1 June 2558 1 June 2 May 2558 2 May 2559 3 May 2559 3 May 2559 2 June 2559 4 May 25 May 3 May 1 June
2016 20 May 2559 21 May 21 May 2560 21 May 2560 21 May 2560 22 May 2560 21 May 14 May 21 May 14 May 21 June
2017 10 May 2560 10 May 10 May 2561 10 May 2561 10 May 2561 11 May 2561 10 May 3 May 10 May 10 May 21 June
2018 29 May 2561 29 May 29 April 2562 29 April 2562 29 April 2562 29 May 2562 22 May 22 May 29 May 29 May 29 May
2019 18 May 2562 19 May 18 May 2563 18 May 2563 18 May 2563 19 May 2563 18 May 12 May 19 May 19 May 17 June
2020 7 May 6 May 2564 7 May 2564 6 May 2564 7 May 2564 7 May 30 April 7 May 6 June 5 June
2021 19 May
2600 Sambuddhatva jayanthi in Jetavana 02
Vesak is celebrated in Jetavana, India, 2011

In Japan

In Japan, Vesak or hanamatsuri (花祭) is also known as Kanbutsue (灌仏会), Goutan'e (降誕会)), Busshoue (仏生会), Yokubutsue (浴仏会), Ryuge'e (龍華会) and Hanaeshiki (花会式). It is not a public holiday. It is based on a legend that nine dragons appeared in the sky on the Buddha's birthday and poured amṛta over him.[25]

It used to be celebrated on the 8th day of the fourth month in the Chinese calendar based on one of the legends that proclaims the day as Buddha's birthday. At present, the celebration is observed on 8 April of the Solar Calendar since the government of Meiji Japan adopted the western solar calendar as the official calendar. Since the 8th day of the fourth month in the lunar calendar commonly falls in May of the current solar calendar, it is now celebrated about a month earlier.

In Japan, Vesak celebrations include pouring 甘茶 (amacha), a sweet tea made from Hydrangea macrophylla, on statues. In Buddhist religious sites such as temples and viharas, more involved ceremonies are conducted for lay Buddhists, priests, and monks and nuns.

In Nepal

Vesak, commonly known in Nepal as "Buddha Jayanti" is widely celebrated all across the country, predominantly, Lumbini – the birthplace of Buddha, and Swayambhu – the holy temple for Buddhists, also known as "the Monkey Temple". The main door of Swayambhu is opened only on this very day, therefore, people from all over Kathmandu valley are stimulated by the event. Thousands of pilgrims from various parts of the world come together to celebrate Buddha's birthday at his birthplace, Lumbini. In Nepal, Buddha is worshipped by all religious groups, therefore "Buddha Jayanti" is marked by a public holiday. People donate foods and clothes to the needy and also provide financial aid to monasteries and schools where Buddhism is taught and practised.

In Sri Lanka

Piliyandala Vesak Pandol, May 2015
Vesak Thorana in Piliyandala, Sri Lanka

Vesak is celebrated as a religious and a cultural festival in Sri Lanka on the full moon of the lunar month of Vesak (usually in the Gregorian month of May), for about one week and this festival is often celebrated by different religious people in Sri Lanka.[26] During this week, the selling of alcohol and fresh meat is usually prohibited, with abattoirs also being closed.[27] Celebrations include religious and alms-giving activities. Electrically-lit pandals called thoranas are erected in locations mainly in Colombo, Kandy, Galle and elsewhere, most sponsored by donors, religious societies and welfare groups. Each pandal illustrates a story from the Jataka tales.

In addition, colourful lanterns called Vesak kuudu are hung along streets and in front of homes. They signify the light of the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha. Food stalls set up by Buddhist devotees called dansälas provide free food, ice-cream and drinks to passersby.[28] Groups of people from community organisations, businesses and government departments sing bhakti gee (Buddhist devotional songs). Colombo experiences a massive influx of people from all parts of the country during this week.

In South Korea

KOCIS Korea YeonDeungHoe 20130511 05 (8733836165)
Lotus Lantern Festival (연등회, Yeon Deung Hoe) in Seoul, South Korea

In South Korea the birthday of Buddha is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Korean lunar calendar (as well as in Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam) and is an official holiday. This day is called 석가탄신일 (Seokga tansinil), meaning "Buddha's birthday" or 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim osin nal) meaning "the day when the Buddha came". It has now grown into one of the nation's biggest cultural festivals. Lotus lanterns cover the entire temple throughout the month which are often flooded down the street.[29] On the day of Buddha's birth, many temples provide free meals and tea to all visitors. The breakfast and lunch provided are often sanchae bibimbap.

In Laos

The Vixakha Bouxa festival is the Lao version of the Thai Visakha Puja, which it closely resembles. It commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha, which are all said to have happened on the same date. It is held around the month of May or Vesak, based on the lunar calendar. Celebrations include dances, poems, parades, processions, deep meditation, theatrical performances, and puppet shows.

Boun Bang Fay

One part of the Vixakha Bouxa festival is called Boun Bang Fay, or Rocket Festival. As this occurs during the hottest and driest season of the year, large homemade rockets are launched into the sky in an attempt to convince the celestial beings to send down rain. Traditionally, Buddhist monks made the rockets out of hollow bamboo tubes filled with gunpowder (among other things). Nowadays, lay people make the bang fai more like fireworks and hold competitions for the highest, fastest and most colorful rockets. The event takes place on both sides of the Mekhong River border between Thailand and the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and sometimes teams from the neighbouring countries will compete against each other. Tourists travel long distances to witness this now popular event.

In Vietnam

Before 1975, the birthday of Buddha was a national public holiday in South Vietnam.[30] It was a public festival with float and lantern parades on the streets. However, after the Fall of Saigon, the day was no longer a public holiday. Since 2000s, the festival witnessed revival across the country, as the country's communist regime sought to side with Buddhism in fear of accusation of religious persecution from Christian minority.[31]. Vesak Celebration is officially held by Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha every year and it aggregated international delegates for great events in 2008, 2014, 2019 (the 16th United Nations Day of Vesak Celebration). [32] .

In Malaysia

Wesak at Mara Vihara
People thronged to the Maha Vihara Buddhist Temple during the Wesak Day celebration in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Celebrated by Buddhists to mark three momentous events in Buddha's life – his birth, enlightenment, and his departure from the human world, the Wesak celebration in Malaysia begins at dawn when devotees gather at Buddhist temples nationwide to meditate on the Eight Precepts. Donations – giving food to the needy and offerings of incense and joss sticks – and prayers are carried out. The sutras are chanted in unison by monks in saffron robes. The celebration is highlighted by a candle procession. Wesak Day in Malaysia is a national public holiday.

In Bangladesh

The Wesak Day is an important festival for most Bengali Buddhists if it is in Bangladesh, it is celebrated likely in Chittagong, Dhaka, and some other Buddhist places and people in Bangladesh. In Bangla language, it is known as Buddho Purnima. It is also a public holiday in Bangladesh.

In Indonesia

Borobudur on Vesak Day 2011
Vesak Day celebration in Borobudur temple, Indonesia

This significant and traditional holy day is observed throughout Indonesia, where it is known as Waisak Day.[33][34] At Borobudur, thousands of Buddhist monks will join together to repeat mantras and meditate as they circuit the temple in a ritual called "Pradaksina". This is a form of tribute to the temple. Monks celebrate the special day by bottling holy water (which symbolises humility) and transporting flames (which symbolize light and enlightenment) from location to location. The monks also took part in the "Pindapata" ritual, where they received charity from the people of Indonesia. Waisak Day in Indonesia has been celebrated as a national public holiday every year since 1983.

In Singapore

In Singapore, Vesak Day was made a public holiday in 1955 after many public petitions, replacing Whit Monday.[35][36][37] In the early decades of the 20th century, Vesak Day was associated with the Ceylonese community which then celebrated it along with their National Day in a two-day event. After World War II, there was a movement to make Vesak Day a public holiday, with the Singapore Buddhist Association leading the petitions.[38]

At the United Nations

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 54/115, entitled 'International recognition of the Day of Vesak at United Nations Headquarters and other United Nations offices'. The resolution internationally recognized the Day of Vesak to acknowledge the contributions that Lord Buddha and Buddhism have made for over two and a half millennia. It also called for annual commemoration of the Day at the UN Headquarters, in New York, and other UN offices around the world.[39][40]

The Day of Vesak is an official holiday for the UN offices in many of the countries in South-East Asia.

See also

References

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  2. ^ "May 2016 Calendar – Sri Lanka". www.timeanddate.com.
  3. ^ "April 2016 Calendar – Cambodia". www.timeanddate.com.
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  16. ^ "Vesak Full Moon Poya Day in Sri Lanka". timeanddate.com. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  17. ^ "Visak Bochea Day in Cambodia". timeanddate.com. Retrieved 1 March 2019. select pull-down menu to see more years
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  32. ^ http://www.undv2019vietnam.com/en
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External links

2019 cyberattacks on Sri Lanka

The 2019 cyberattacks on Sri Lanka were a series of powerful cyberattacks on at least 10 Sri Lankan domestic websites with the public domains of .lk and .com. The cyber attack is speculated to have been conducted on 18 and 19 May 2019, the day following the Vesak festival and amid the persistent temporary social media ban in the country. The website of the Kuwaiti Embassy operating in Sri Lanka was also affected by the cyber attacks. The investigations are currently carried out by Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team along with Sri Lanka Signals Corps. However this was controlled within hours following the spread of attacks.

Bodhi Day

Bodhi Day is the Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni), experienced enlightenment, also known as bodhi in Sanskrit and Pali. According to tradition, Siddhartha had recently forsaken years of extreme ascetic practices and resolved to sit under a peepal tree and simply meditate until he found the root of suffering, and how to liberate oneself from it.

Borobudur

Borobudur, or Barabudur (Indonesian: Candi Borobudur, Javanese: ꦕꦤ꧀ꦣꦶꦧꦫꦧꦸꦣꦸꦂ, romanized: Candhi Barabudhur) is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist temple in Magelang Regency, not far from the town of Muntilan, in Central Java, Indonesia. It is the world's largest Buddhist temple. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. It is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. The central dome is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa.Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra Dynasty, the temple design follows Javanese Buddhist architecture, which blends the Indonesian indigenous cult of ancestor worship and the Buddhist concept of attaining Nirvana. The temple demonstrates the influences of Gupta art that reflects India's influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian. The monument is a shrine to the Lord Buddha and a place for Buddhist pilgrimage. The pilgrim journey begins at the base of the monument and follows a path around the monument, ascending to the top through three levels symbolic of Buddhist cosmology: Kāmadhātu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms) and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). The monument guides pilgrims through an extensive system of stairways and corridors with 1,460 narrative relief panels on the walls and the balustrades. Borobudur has one of the largest and most complete ensembles of Buddhist reliefs in the world.Evidence suggests that Borobudur was constructed in the 9th century and subsequently abandoned following the 14th-century decline of Hindu kingdoms in Java and the Javanese conversion to Islam. Worldwide knowledge of its existence was sparked in 1814 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, then the British ruler of Java, who was advised of its location by native Indonesians. Borobudur has since been preserved through several restorations. The largest restoration project was undertaken between 1975 and 1982 by the Indonesian government and UNESCO, followed by the monument's listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and ranks with Bagan in Myanmar and Angkor Wat in Cambodia as one of the great archeological sites of Southeast Asia. Borobudur remains popular for pilgrimage, with Buddhists in Indonesia celebrating Vesak Day at the monument. Borobudur is Indonesia's single most visited tourist attraction.

Buddha's Birthday

Buddha's birthday is a holiday traditionally celebrated in most of East Asia to commemorate the birth of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, later the Gautama Buddha and founder of Buddhism. It is also celebrated in South and Southeast Asia as Vesak which also acknowledges the enlightenment and death of the Buddha. According to the Theravada Tripitaka scriptures (from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), Gautama was born c. 563/480 BCE in Lumbini in modern-day Nepal, and raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilavastu, in the present-day Piprahwa, India or Tilaurakot, Nepal. At the age of thirty five, he attained enlightenment (nirvana) underneath a Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya (modern-day India). He delivered his first sermon at Sarnath, India. At the age of eighty, he died at Kushinagar, India.The exact date of Buddha's birthday is based on the Asian lunisolar calendars. The date for the celebration of Buddha's birthday varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years it may be celebrated in June.

Buddhism in Indonesia

Buddhism has a long history in Indonesia, and is recognized as one of six official religions in Indonesia, along with Islam, Christianity (Protestantism and Catholicism), Hinduism and Confucianism. According to the 2000 national census roughly 0.8% of the total citizens of Indonesia were Buddhists, and numbered around 1.7 million. Most Buddhists are concentrated in Jakarta, Riau, Riau Islands, Bangka Belitung, North Sumatra, and West Kalimantan. These totals, however, are probably inflated, as practitioners of Taoism and Chinese folk religion, which are not considered official religions of Indonesia, likely declared themselves as Buddhists on the most recent census. Today, the majority of Buddhists in Indonesia are Chinese, however small numbers of native (such as Javanese and Sasak) Buddhists are also present.

Buddhism in the Middle East

It is estimated that in the Middle East around 900,000 people, perhaps more, profess Buddhism as their religion. Buddhist adherents make up just over 0.3% of the total population of the Middle East. Many of these Buddhists are workers who have migrated from Asia to the Middle East in the last 20 years, many from countries that have large Buddhist populations, such as China, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. A small number of engineers, company directors, and managers from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea have also moved to the Middle East.

Buddhist flag

The Buddhist flag is a flag designed in the late 19th century to symbolize and universally represent Buddhism. It is used by Buddhists throughout the world.

Buddhist holidays

This is a list of holidays celebrated within the Buddhist tradition.

Vesak: Buddha's birthday is known as Vesak and is one of the major festivals of the year. It is celebrated on the first full moon day in May, or the fourth lunar month which usually occurs in May or during a lunar leap year, June. In some countries this has become an occasion to not only celebrate the birth but also the enlightenment and parinirvana of the Buddha.

Parinirvana Day: also known as Nirvana Day, a Mahayana Buddhist holiday celebrated in East Asia, usually on February 15.

Magha Puja: Magha Puja is an important religious festival celebrated by Buddhists in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos on the full moon day of the third lunar month (this usually falls in February or March)

Buddha's Birthday: Also known as "Hanamatsuri" it is celebrated April 8 and in Japan baby Buddha figurines are ceremonially washed with tea.

Asalha Puja Day: Also known as "Dharma Day" celebrates the Buddha's first teaching on the full moon day of the 8th lunar month, approximately July.

Uposatha: This day is known as observance day, there are four holy days on the new moon, full moon, and quarter moon days every month.

Kathina Ceremony: This robe offering ceremony, is held on any date within the end of the Vassa Retreat. New robes and other requisites can be offered by the laity to the monks.

Abhidhamma Day: According to Burmese tradition, this day celebrates when the Buddha went to the Tushita Heaven to teach his mother the Abhidhamma. It is celebrated on the full moon of the seventh month the Burmese lunar year which starts in April.

Loy Krathong: When the rivers and canals are full of water, this festival takes place in all parts of Thailand on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month. Bowls made with leaves, candles, and incense sticks, are in the water, and represent bad luck disappearing.

Madhu Purnima: It occurs on the day of the full moon in Bhadro (August/September). The day commemorates an occasion on which the Buddha retreated to the wilderness of Parileyya forest to bring peace between two quarrelling factions of disciples.

The Ploughing Festival: During the half moon in May, two oxen pull a plough painted gold. Following behind them are girls dressed in white scattering rice seeds. This was to celebrate the Buddha's first moment of enlightenment.

The Elephant Festival: The Buddha used an example of a wild elephant which is harnessed to a tame one to be trained. He said that a person who is new to Buddhism should have a special relationship with an older Buddhist. This festival takes place on the third Saturday in November.

The Festival of the Tooth: In Sri Lanka there is a temple that houses a tooth relic of the Buddha. It can't be seen, but once a year there is a procession for it on the full moon in August.

Hungry Ghost Festival: "Ancestor Day" or "Ulambana" is celebrated from the first to the fifteenth days of the eighth lunar month. This is the day when the monastics complete their Rains Retreat. It was considered that many monastics would have made progress during their retreat and therefore become a greater field of merit. Lay devotees make offerings on behalf of their ancestors and dedicate the merit towards those suffering in the preta realm to relieve their suffering.

Avalokitesvara's Birthday: This festival celebrates the Bodhisattva ideal. On the full moon day in March It represents the perfection of compassion in Mahayana traditions of Tibet and China.

Bodhi Day: The holiday which commemorates the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment.

Eight precepts

In Buddhism, the eight precepts (Sanskrit: aṣṭāṇga-śīla or aṣṭā-sīla, Pali: aṭṭhaṅga-sīla or aṭṭha-sīla) is a list of precepts that are observed by lay devotees on observance days and festivals. They include general precepts such as refraining from killing, but also more specific ones, such as abstaining from cosmetics. Probably based on pre-Buddhist sāmaṇa practices, the eight precepts are often upheld on the Buddhist observance days (Sanskrit: upavasatha, poṣadha, pauṣadha, Pali: uposatha, posaha), and in such context called the uposatha vows or one-day precepts. They are considered to support meditation practice, and are often observed when staying in monasteries and temples. In some periods and places, such as in 7th–10th-century China, the precepts were widely observed. In modern times, there have been revival movements and important political figures that have observed them continuously.

Huế Phật Đản shootings

The Huế Phật Đản shootings were the deaths of nine unarmed Buddhist civilians on 8 May 1963 in the city of Huế, South Vietnam at the hands of the army and security forces of the Roman Catholic government of Ngô Đình Diệm. The army and police fired guns and launched grenades into a crowd of Buddhists who had been protesting against a government ban on flying the Buddhist flag on the day of Phật Đản, which commemorates the birth of Gautama Buddha. Diệm denied governmental responsibility for the incident and blamed the Việt Cộng, which added to discontent among the Buddhist majority.

The incident spurred a protest movement by Buddhists against the religious discrimination which they felt was perpetrated by the Diệm regime, known as the Buddhist crisis, and this led to widespread civil disobedience among the South Vietnamese. Generals from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam conducted a coup on 1 November 1963, after six months of tension and growing opposition to the regime; this led to the arrest and assassination of Ngô Đình Diệm on 2 November 1963.

Huế chemical attacks

The Huế chemical attacks occurred on 3 June 1963, when soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) poured liquid chemicals from tear gas grenades onto the heads of praying Buddhists in Huế, South Vietnam. The Buddhists were protesting against religious discrimination by the regime of the Roman Catholic President Ngô Đình Diệm. The attacks caused 67 people to be hospitalised for blistering of the skin and respiratory ailments.

The protests were part of the Buddhist crisis, during which the Buddhist majority in South Vietnam campaigned for religious equality after nine people were killed by government forces while defying a ban that prevented them from flying the Buddhist flag on Vesak. The incident prompted the United States to privately threaten to withdraw support for Diệm's government and when the Americans finally reduced aid a few months later, the army took it as a green light for a coup. An inquiry determined that the chemical used in the attack was a liquid component from old French tear gas grenades that had never functioned properly. The findings exonerated the ARVN soldiers from charges that they had used poison or mustard gas. The outcry over the attack had already forced Diệm to appoint a panel of three cabinet ministers to meet with Buddhist leaders for negotiations regarding religious equality. The talks led to the signing of the Joint Communique, but the policy changes it provided were not implemented and widespread protests continued, leading to the assassination of Diệm in a military coup.

Lunar calendar

A lunar calendar is a calendar based upon the monthly cycles of the Moon's phases (synodic months), in contrast to solar calendars, whose annual cycles are based only directly upon the solar year. The most commonly used calendar, the Gregorian calendar, is a solar calendar system that originally evolved out of a lunar calendar system. A purely lunar calendar is also distinguished from a lunisolar calendar, whose lunar months are brought into alignment with the solar year through some process of intercalation. The details of when months begin varies from calendar to calendar, with some using new, full, or crescent moons and others employing detailed calculations.

Since each lunation is approximately ​29 1⁄2 days (29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 3 seconds, or 29.530588 days), it is common for the months of a lunar calendar to alternate between 29 and 30 days. Since the period of twelve such lunations, a lunar year, is only 354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes, 34 seconds (354.367056 days), purely lunar calendars lose around 11 days per year relative to the Gregorian calendar. In purely lunar calendars like the Islamic calendar, the lack of intercalation causes the lunar months to cycle through all the seasons of the Gregorian year over the course of a 33 lunar-year cycle.

Although the Gregorian calendar is in common and legal use in most countries, traditional lunar and lunisolar calendars continue to be used throughout the Old World to determine religious festivals and national holidays. Examples of such holidays include Ramadan (Islamic calendar); Easter; the Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Mongolian New Year (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Mongolian calendars); the Nepali New Year (Nepali calendar); the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chuseok (Chinese and Korean calendars); Loi Krathong (Thai calendar); Sunuwar calendar; Vesak/Buddha's Birthday (Buddhist calendar); Diwali (Hindu calendars); and Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew calendar).

Mesha Sankranti

Mesha Sankranti (also called Mesha Sankramana) refers to the first day of the solar cycle year, that is the solar New Year in the Hindu luni-solar calendar. The Hindu calendar also has a lunar new year, which is religiously more significant, and falls on different dates in the Amanta and Purinamanta systems prevalent across the Indian subcontinent. The solar cycle year is significant in Oriya,Punjabi ,Malayalam,Tamil and Bengali calendars.The day represents specific solar movement according to ancient Sanskrit texts. Mesha Sankranti is one of the twelve Sankranti in the Indian calendar. The concept is also found in Indian astrology texts wherein it refers to the day of transition of sun into the Aries zodiac sign.The day is important in solar and lunisolar calendars followed on the subcontinent. Mesha Sankranti falls on 13 April usually, sometimes 14 April. This day is the basis for major Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist festivals, of which Vaisakhi and Vesak are the most well known.It is related to the equivalent Buddhist calendar-based New Year festivals in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, parts of Northeast India, parts of Vietnam and Xishuangbanna, China; collectively referred to as Songkran.

Ngô Đình Cẩn

Ngô Đình Cẩn (Vietnamese: [ŋo˧ ɗɨ̞̠n˦˩ kəŋ˦˩]; 1911 – 9 May 1964) was a younger brother and confidant of South Vietnam's first president, Ngô Đình Diệm, and an important member of the Diệm government. Diệm put Cẩn in charge of central Vietnam, stretching from Phan Thiết in the south to the border at the 17th parallel, with Cẩn ruling the region as a virtual dictator. Based in the former imperial capital of Huế, Cẩn operated private armies and secret police that controlled the central region and earned himself a reputation as the most oppressive of the Ngô brothers.

In his youth, Cẩn was a follower of the nationalist Phan Bội Châu. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he worked to organise support for Diệm as various Vietnamese groups and international powers sought to stamp their authority over Vietnam. Cẩn, who succeeded in eliminating alternative nationalist opposition in central Vietnam, became the warlord of the region when his brother became president of the southern half of the partitioned nation in 1955. He became notorious for his involvement in smuggling and corruption, as well as his autocratic rule. Cẩn was regarded as an effective leader against the Viet Cong communist insurgency, which was much weaker in central Vietnam than in other parts of South Vietnam. His Popular Force militia was regarded by US officials in central Vietnam as a successful counter to the communists.Cẩn's influence began to wane after his elder brother Ngô Đình Thục was appointed the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Huế. Thục overshadowed Cẩn and aggressively promoted Catholicism, which led to the banning of the Buddhist flag in 1963 during Vesak, the celebration of the birthday of Gautama Buddha. Cẩn's forces opened fire on a crowd who were protesting the ban, killing nine and precipitating the Buddhist crisis. Ongoing demonstrations intensified throughout the summer as the regime responded with increased brutality, sparking the toppling of the Diem regime in a November 1963 coup. Cẩn had been offered asylum by the US Department of State, but ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. had CIA agent Lucien Conein arrest the fallen Ngô in Saigon. Cẩn was turned over to the military junta, which tried and executed him in 1964.

Pandal

A pandal (မဏ္ဍပ် or mandat in Burmese, from Tamil), in India and neighbouring countries, is a fabricated structure, either temporary or permanent, that is used at many places such as either outside a building or in an open area in a religious or other events that gathers people together, such as a wedding, fair, exhibition or festival.

Piliyandala

Piliyandala (Sinhala:පිළියන්දල) is a suburb of the city of Colombo in Sri Lanka. which is situated approximately 18 kilometres (11 mi) south of Colombo. It is one of the relatively more populated suburbs located in the Colombo District of the Western Province, Sri Lanka and it is surrounded by the suburbs of Moratuwa, Kesbawa, Maharagama, Pannipitiya, Bandaragama and Kahathuduwa. Piliyandala has a thriving market in the town centre (next to the clock tower) and the Kesbewa Urban Council is also located in Piliyandala.

In 2008 the suburb was subject to a bus bombing, which was committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Public holidays in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has numerous public holidays, including national memorial, religious and secular holidays of Bengali origin. The Bengali traditional calendar, known as Banggabda is the national and official calendar in Bangladesh. The holidays are celebrated according to Bengali, Islamic or Gregorian calendars for religious and civil purposes, respectively. Religious festivals like Eid are celebrated according to the Islamic calendar whereas other national holidays are celebrated according to the Bengali and Gregorian calendar. While the Islamic calendar is based on the movement of the moon, it loses synchronization with the seasons, through seasonal drift. Therefore, some public holidays are subject to change every year based on the lunar calendar.

There are fifteen public holidays in Bangladesh. Muslims and non-Muslims have four religious holidays each in addition to the secular seven national holidays. For the Muslims, four major Islamic holidays: Muharram, Mawlid, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha are observed. For the Hindus: Krishna Janmashtami and Durga Puja are celebrated. As for the Christians and Buddhists: Christmas and Vesak (one day each) are celebrated.

Public holidays in Singapore

There are eleven public holidays in Singapore. Each major local race and religion have two holidays each in addition to the secular holidays of New Year's Day, Labour Day and National Day. For the Chinese, Chinese New Year (two days) and the Buddhist holiday Vesak Day (one day) are also observed. For the Hindus, Deepavali (one day) is celebrated. For the Muslims, the two Islamic holidays of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (one day on 1 Syawal) and Hari Raya Aidil Adha (one day on 10 Zulhijah) are celebrated. As for the Christians, the two Christian holidays of Good Friday and Christmas Day (25 December) are celebrated. These public holidays have been recognised since Singapore's 1966 Holidays Act.

Sixth Buddhist council

The Sixth Buddhist Council (Pali: Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana; Burmese: ဆဋ္ဌမသင်္ဂါယနာ; Sinhala: ඡට්ඨ සංගායනා) was a general council of Theravada Buddhism, held in a specially built cave and pagoda complex at Kaba Aye Pagoda in Yangon, Burma. The council was attended by 2500 monastics from eight Theravada Buddhist countries. The Council lasted from Vesak 1954 to Vesak 1956, its completion coinciding with the traditional 2500th anniversary of the Gautama Buddha's Parinibbāna. In the tradition of past Buddhist councils, a major purpose of the Sixth Council was to preserve the Buddha's teachings and practices as understood in the Theravada tradition.

Over the two-year period, monks (sangīti-kāraka) from different countries recited from their existing redaction of the Pāli Canon and the associated post-canonical literature. As a result, the Council synthesized a new redaction of the Pali texts ultimately transcribed into several native scripts.

National holidays
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(differ by states)
National holidays (fixed)
National holidays (moveable)
National holidays
Region-based holidays

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