Vesak 2016 – Buddhist Holiday

Vesak 2016 – Buddhist Holiday

Vesak (also known as Vesakha, Visaikh Puja, Buddha Purnima, and Buddha Day) is a Buddhist holiday that celebrates Siddhvesak 2016artha Gautama’s birth, enlightenment (nirvana), and death (parinirvana).  This festival typically falls on the full moon in May which falls on May 21, 2016 this year.

This holiday is typically observed by Buddhist practitioners of the Theravada tradition and is celebrated widely across Southeast Asia (e.g. India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, Phillipines, Singapore, Vietnam, and many others).

In contrast, many Mahayana Buddhists particularly in East Asia (i.e. Japan) tend to celebrate the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death on separate days.



Observing Vesak

On this day, Buddhist go to their temple or monastery and offer incense offerings and offerings of flowers and candles as well.  These flower offerings remind us that like flowers our lives wither away quickly, the candles and incense sticks remind us that our lives could burn out at any moment.  In other words, it reminds us of the impermanence of all phenomena including our lives.

Monks and nuns also recite sutras and conduct Dharma talks which lay people are encouraged to help others and show tolerance and respect fovesak 2016r the beliefs of others who may be of a different religion/faith.

Typically, birds or insects are released in great numbers are released which is essentially a symbolic act of liberation from suffering. Buddhists also affirm their commitment to follow the Five Precepts and follow the Eightfold Path.

Another symbolic act that is performed on Vesak is the ritual washing of a statue of the Buddha in front of the altar in a temple or monastery which washes away the person’s bad karma. Each person comes up to the statue and pours water over it while Buddhist monks chant.  This symbolizes the events of the Buddha’s birth when the devas and spirits made offerings to him after his birth.

In these ways, we re-enact the events of the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death which helps to connect us closer to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.


vesak 2016

On the holiday of Vesak we use this opportunity to reiterate their commitment to following the path of the Buddha’s teachings (Dharma).  In this way, we honor the Buddha as a great teacher and do our best to follow his teachings.

Thanks for reading this article on the Buddhist holiday of Vesak (or Vesakha).  Please take a look at my Amazon picks below for further reading on Buddhism.

Tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Vesak 2016 – Buddhist Holiday

  1. Candace says:

    Hi! Thank you for this information on Vesak. I love learning new things about different cultures and religions. I only wish I read about this holiday earlier. I would have liked to talk to my children about it on this day of Vesak. I have a couple audio books on Buddhism that I have yet to listen to. No Mud, No Lotus looks like a good read. I will add it to my reading list. Thanks again for this interesting post.

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Candace,
      Thanks for your comment! I think it’s a great idea to teach your children about the beliefs of other religious paths throughout the world.

  2. Miles says:

    You have provided great information about Vesak. I’m very interested in understanding the various cultures and religions.

    The ending of your blog is perfect where you encourage readers to take a look at your Amazon picks for further reading on Buddhism.

    I will definitely use this blog to obtain the materials that would be helpful to me for an increased awareness of Buddhism.

    Thank you for sharing.


    • Ian H says:

      Hi Miles,
      Thanks for your comment! Please feel free to use my page to increase your knowledge of Buddhism, that’s what it’s there for.

  3. Kevin says:

    As a regular practicer of yoga and meditation I have always had the utmost respect for Buddha and his culture. He is referred as one of the first enlightened earthly souls and I believe that to be true. I have never practiced Buddhism or heard of Vesak but it sounds familiar to something yogis do. We commonly offer things found in nature as well as burn incenses.

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Kevin,
      Thanks for your comment! The Buddha was definitely a pioneer when it comes to the attainment of Nirvana.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *