Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Buddha and his five disciples

This widely spread Buddhist saying captures the essence of Dharma day: a day to celebrate the first teachings of Buddha. The word Dharma translates to ‘truth’ or to ‘the way to enlightenment.’ This date, every full moon of July, marks the day in Siddhartha’s life when he, right after his enlightenment, sought out his five original disciples and begun teaching them what he had learned.

This day is also known as Dharmachakra, or the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma, which implies that Dharma day was the day the Buddhist fate begun to form and spread. In ancient times, the Dharma day also used to mark the beginning of rainy season…

Today’s date marks the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith. Although many of us encounter Sikhism daily in the multicultural United Kingdom street scene, only a few know how Sikhism came to be. Today’s date is the perfect day to learn about it.

Guru Arjan Dev

Guru Arjan Dev

Guru Arjan Dev was born in 1953. He believed that the meaning of life, and religion, was simply to live in this world and cope with everyday problems. One of his most famous quotes is “My faith is for the people of all castes and all creeds from whichever direction they come and to whichever direction they bow.” He announced this after creating the Sikhs their first central place of worship. The place for worship became known as the Golden Temple, although it was controversial in many ways. Guru Arjan Dev believed that humility is a great virtue, thus, he built the temple very low rather than tall and close to the sky as was the custom. Whats more, he ordered the temple to have entrances on all four sides. This was because Muslims believe God’s house is in the West, whereas Hindu’s believe it is in the East, and Guru Arjan Dev wanted his faith to accommodate everyone. To help raise money for the Golden Temple Guru Arjan Dev declared that Sikhs must donate 1/10 of their earnings to charity. This is still an important part of the Sikh fate today.

Wesak – May 5th

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.


Enlightened Buddha

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…

Vaisakhi – April 13th

Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi, is a Sikh celebration which originates in Northern India, specifically in the Punjab region. Although Vaisakhi is considered a Sikh holiday in Punjab it is celebrated by everyone regardless of religion.


Vaisakhi celebrations in Birmingham, UK

Vaisahki is mainly a celebration of harvest. It’s popularity in Northern India is supported by the fact that agriculture provides a livelihood for the majority of people in rural areas. Sikhism adds it’s own origin story for Vaisakhi, a story of the Beloved Five, five young Sikhs who were ready to sacrifice their lives for their fate but who were eventually spared.

Holi – 8th of March

Holi is a Hindu spring festival that traditionally celebrates fertility and harvest.


Don't feel offended, it's Holi!

Recently, it has also gained religious elements, marking some of the ancient Hindu legends, such as the legend of Prahalad and Holika.

Although Holi has many origin stories, none of them are quite as fascinating as the celebration its self. On the streets, Holi takes the form of a carnival…

National Foundation Day is a day of celebration throughoutjapan
Japan. Each year, on 11th February, the country remembers its historic roots. National Foundation Day, or Kenkoku Kinen no Hi, has its roots in Kigensetsu, or ‘Empire Day’, founded by the Meiji Emperor in 1873 to honour the Imperial family line and the founding of Japan. However, it is now thought that the Meiji government wanted to raise the profile of the Imperial Emperor and unite the modernising Japan as a nation-state following the abolition of the traditional Shogunate.  Although done away with after World War II, Kigensetsu was subsequently revived in 1966 as National Foundation Day.

History tells us that Japan’s first ruler was Emperor Jimmu, a descendant of the Sun Goddess, who was crowned on 11 February, 660BC. This day is regarded as the founding of the nation. Although this is now considered to be a myth,  it was a strongly unifying idea and lead to the belief that Japan as a nation was invincible.

Nirvana Day (also known as Parinirvana Day)Nirvana Day is a Mahayana Buddhist day that celebrates the death of the Buddha, or in other words, the day the Buddha finally reached Nirvana at the age of 80. Some celebrate this day on the 8th and others on the 15th of February. So, what is Nirvana? The mental state of Nirvana symbolises the loss of all suffering and want, and freedom from the pain of physical existence. The word its self means ‘to extinguish.’ An enlightened monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, explains…

Every year, on the 15th day of the first Lunar Calendar month the Lantern Festival officially ends the celebrations for Chinese New Year. This year, the festival is on February 7th. The Lantern Festival is celebrated so widely in South-East Asia that it is sometimes called the Second New Year. Examples of countries that celebrate the festival are China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

During the night of the festival thousands of red lanterns are lit and flown into the night sky. Each lantern is individually decorated. Some decorate the lanterns with prayers, whereas some prefer to write riddles. Traditionally, in China, the Lantern Festival is considered a day for lovers. Watch the clip below from Chiang Mai, Thailand to see the beauty in this phenomenon!

Happy Lantern Festival

Every spring, Japan celebrates a day called Setsubun, or better known as Risshun, the bean-throwing festival

SetsubunThis year Risshun is celebrated on the 3rd of February. It is traditionally a day that marks the beginning of spring. When celebrated at home, roasted beans are thrown out the door cleansing away any demons from the former year.

While throwing the beans it’s appropriate to chant :

“Demons out, luck in!’

The three Chinese New Year I spent in Hangzhou (three hours’ drive from
Shanghai) have now muddled into one big celebratory memory: into one giant steamed bun, baozi: into one enormous good luck lantern. Chinese New Year, for me, was always a kind of alien Christmas with its red and gold, music and food, cards and gifts. The place in my mind where I most vividly experience the festivities are the streets surrounding Xihu, West Lake near the centre of the town. There, the crisp rattle of fireworks becomes a part of the air that Hangzhou breathes and the booming and cracking doesn’t pause until the two weeks  are over. My most vivid impressions…