Buddha Day is observed annually on the first full moon of the ancient lunar month of Vesakha, which typically occurs in May or June. This year, it occurs on May 26. In 2000, the United Nations began commemorating Buddha Day at its headquarters and offices. Buddha Day, also known as Vesak, honours the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada or East Asian tradition. The holiday is observed with religious ceremonies in temples, as well as meditation and contemplation of the teachings of Buddha. Buddha Day is observed in countries with a significant Buddhist population, including Nepal, China, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Laos.
The background of Buddha Day
Buddhism was founded in India by Siddhartha Gautama between the fifth and sixth centuries B.C. According to historians, Siddhartha Gautama was born into an aristocratic family in the tiny Shakya Republic, which is now a part of Nepal. After attaining adulthood, Gautama gave up his inheritance and lived as a sramana ascetic, studying under various teachers. Under a Bodhi tree, after six years of seeking for a solution to human suffering, Gautama attained enlightenment.
Buddha spent the remaining 45 years of his life teaching his doctrine and establishing his religion throughout the Gangetic Plains of north-central India. Following Buddha’s demise in 483 B.C., his disciples initiated a religious movement, which evolved into Buddhism. During the reign of Ashoka the Great (268 B.C. to 232 B.C.
Buddhism became more prevalent in China and Sri Lanka than it did in India. Between the second and first centuries B.C., Buddhist art, including anthropomorphic depictions of Buddha, started to appear in these regions. The invasion of India by the Huns in the sixth century and the spread of Islam during the Middle Ages, however, pushed Buddhism into the background. Sri Lanka hosted the first World Fellowship of Buddhists conference in 1950. During the conference, all Buddhist nations consented to officially recognise Vesak as the Buddha’s birthday.
BUDDHA DAY ACTIVITIES
Visit Buddhist temples for Vesak ceremonies
On Buddha Day, Buddhist temples around the world observe the traditional Buddha Day ceremony, which consists of raising the Buddhist flag and singing hymns in honour of the sacred triple gem. If you are a Buddhist or intrigued in Buddhism, you can participate in the celebration at a local Buddhist temple.
Observe the Five Commandments
The Five Precepts of Buddhism are moral and ethical living guidelines for Buddhists. A devoted Buddhist adherent strictly adheres to these principles. If you have not followed these precepts throughout your life, you can recommit to them on Buddha Day. This might consist of daily affirmations or frequent meditation and reflection.
Donate to charity.
Following in the Buddha’s footsteps, you can use Buddha Day to contribute joy to the lives of others. Or you can volunteer with a local charity organisation.
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5 Buddhist Facts You Probably Didn’t Know
Buddhists are infidels who adhere to the Buddha’s teachings.
Western scholars coined the term ‘Buddhism.’
Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world, following Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism.
Buddhism focuses primarily on meditation and mindfulness, making it a psychological practise.
Unlike other main world religions, Buddhism has no holy book.
BUDDHA DAY DATES