Want to know more about Wesak Day? Find out here...
Posted on 28 May 2018
What is Wesak Day?
Wesak or Vesak Day is a day that is celebrated by Buddhists all over the world. The term Vesak comes from the name of the month from the Indian calendar. In Malaysia, Buddhists gather to celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death on Wesak Day. Commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Gautama Buddha makes this as one of the most important holiday festivals in all of the Buddhist calendar.
In approximately 500B.C., the Buddhist religion was started by Siddhartha Gautuma. Born in a royal family in Nepal, Gautuma began to wonder about the meaning of life due to a realisation that everyone experienced illness, old age and death. Seeking to learn about the truth of life and death, Gautuma left his home to wander the country.
During this time, Gautuma studied yoga and fasted. He thought that fasting would help enlighten him about life and death. However, fasting did not seem to help his pursuit of this knowledge. One day, as Gautama sat below a tree, a young woman brought him food. He ate the food and realised that neither fasting nor self-indulgence would help him find the meaning of life, Gautuma thus became known as Buddha or the Enlightened One.
Celebration of Wesak begins at dawn, Buddhists gather in temples to meditate; following the teachings of Buddhism. Honouring life, showing generosity, embracing celibacy and speaking with wisdom are also important facets of the principles of Buddhism that devotees must abide by. Buddhist devotees abstain from alcohol and only eat at certain times during this holy period. Precepts of Buddhism also require that listening to music, adorning one’s body and sleeping too much must be avoided.
Wesak Day prayers. Photo taken by: 1malaysiatravelblog
Attendees at Wesak Day services make donations and their prayers. Offerings by flowers and candles is also very popular. These offerings reminds us that everything is temporary. Flowers wither, and candles burn.
Flowers and candles offerings. Photo taken by: suanie
Wesak Day candles. Photo taken by:expatgo
Monks chant Buddhist teachings while the flag of Buddha is raised. Some temples may even give away flags of Buddha before Wesak, whereby some will hang these flags in their homes.
Buddhist flag in Malaysia. Photo taken by: buddhastatuesnow
Many Malaysian Buddhists visit the Malaysian Buddhist Association building and wait in line to help wash a statue of Buddha. This ritual is believed to cleanse and purify the soul. Visitors to this building will light their candle shaped as a lotus and pray for Buddha’s blessings. To end the celebration, visitors top things off by enjoying a vegetarian meal.
Malaysian Buddhist Association. Photo taken by: ourjourney06
Bathing Buddha. Photo taken by: expatgo
In Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, celebration of Wesak Day ends with a parade. This extravagant parade is of decorated floats that march alongside people carrying flowers and candles for several hours. One such float consists of a large statue of Buddha.
Wesak Day parade. Photo taken by: expatgo
International Wesak Day
Malaysia is just one of the many countries that celebrates Wesak Day. There are many different places such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Singapore and Thailand that treat Wesak Day as a public holiday and celebrate such day with great festivity. Each country celebrates Wesak Day with great regard to their own implementations and cultural influences. So, fortunately for us, we can all experience many different types of Wesak Days.
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