Wesak (or Vesak) is one of the most important Buddhist holidays. It is always celebrated during full moon in May, which this year falls onto May 5th.
Wesak celebrates the birthday, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. The death of the Buddha is not a sad occasion because it simply marks the day when the Buddha finally reached Nirvana, a heavenly state where there is no pain or suffering… Enlightenment and death in Buddhism mean the escape from the cycle of death and rebirth, a release from Karma. Buddha literally means ‘one who is awake.’
Wesak is a very lighthearted, cheerful celebration full of colour. Homes are often decorated. In Thailand, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka, for example, Wesak is celebrated with an abundance of colorful lanterns. China has incorporated the traditional dragon dance into the festivities. In countries like Japan Wesak is mostly celebrated in Buddhist temples where ceremonies are performed by monks and nuns.
Celebrating Wesak also means bringing happiness and fortune to others. Donating to charities, helping out the aging, disabled, and others less fortunate is common on this day.
Happy Wesak everyone!
Also in May:
World No-Tobacco Day - May 31st
International Day for UN Peacekeepers - May 29th
World Day Against Homophobia - May 17th