Vesak, or roughly we can call it as the birth of Lord Gautam Buddha is the festival to celebrate the birth of Lord Buddha who was the founder of the world famous religion Buddhism which is also predominately followed or practiced by a good majority of people all over the world.
It is also a well-known fact that India is the origin of the beginning of the teaching of Buddhism and that Gautam Buddha started preaching about Buddhism from here in India.
So, before we move on to as how the festival is celebrated in the different parts of the world let us first discuss what is the significance behind the celebration of this festival ‘Vesak’ is?
When is Vesak celebrated?
Although the followers and the devotees of Lord Gautam Buddha are found all over the world but the festival is seen to be majorly celebrated by the East Asian countries.
They celebrate the festival of ‘Vesak’ more traditionally than other countries who practices the religion of Lord Buddha.
Of such many countries that celebrate and observe the day of ‘Vesak, few countries that are a must to include here are, Nepal, Sri Lanka India, Bhutan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
These are the prominent countries that celebrate the birth of Lord Buddha and his life and teachings. The countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and India which used to celebrate the day on the full moon day which used to fall according to the Hindu calendar, and the month would usually be falling on the Vaisakha month.
And thus the festival of Vesak is also termed to be Vaisakha. The day is also called and celebrated as Buddha Purnima, the term is Vesak otherwise when translated from Pali, from Sanskrit turns to be Purnima.
Which means full moon day, and so it is also called Buddha Purnima which is said to be observed on a full moon day.
However the celebration of the Vesak in the above mentioned three countries have come down to and according to the Gregorian calendar and the above mentioned countries celebrate the festival in the months of April and May.
On the time of a leap year the festival is often observed in the month of June, on a full moon day or Purnima.
In other countries the day is celebrated according to the Chinese lunar calendar. The observation day might vary in different countries and sometimes even the time period might not even match, but the day is said to vastly dependent on the lunar calendar of the Chinese.
The 14th or the 15th day of the lunar time period, or in some countries such as South Korea celebrates the day on 8th day according to the fourth month that falls in the lunar calendar of the Chinese.
Japan celebrates the day of Vesak according to the Gregorian calendar and hence observes the day in the month of May.
What is the significance of Vesak?
It is a well-known fact by the devotees of Gautam Buddha that he was a selfless man who firmly believed in the art of selflessness, forgiveness and the righteousness, he believed in giving to others as much as he can and followed the path of dharma to attain moksha.
He was so pure with his flow of selflessness that he sacrificed the worldly pleasures of a king and accepted the life of a monk in order to help others. The festival of Vesak is observed or celebrated especially so that people can give back to society.
They help the underprivileged, the poor and the needy. They do so by providing them with food, clothes and shelter. The followers of the teachings of Lord Buddha visit the underprivileged, the homeless, the sick, the less fortunate, the disabled and the needy.
They provide them with fulfilling meals and even give them company for the day, in order to bring a light of hope and happiness in their lives.
The sole purpose of the celebration of this day is to light a spark of happiness in the life of other people especially in the lives of underprivileged.
There are different forms of bringing or providing people with happiness as practiced by people living in the different parts of the world.
There are not only rituals of providing the people who are needy, sick or unfortunate with monetary help but there are traditions in different parts of the world that devotees shall carry on the teaching of Lord Buddha, by reenacting the teachings of him.
They perform acts or plays so as to make the world aware of the enlightening teaching of Lord Buddha.
They even talk or speak about his early life, how he first entered into the world of attaining Moksha, how he left his worldly pleasures of being the emperor to becoming the Enlighted monk that ever walked on earth.
There are rituals where devotees of Lord Buddha also decorate the walls of temples and even the walls of some homage houses with the pictures of Buddha and his teachings.
They light candles in the worship places and even streets. All in all the celebration or the observation of the day ensures that the day is celebrated with utter happiness and joy and the day is filled with jolly thoughts of remembering Lord Buddha.
Another important and major aspect of the celebration of the day of ‘Vesak’ is paying respect and tribute to Lord Gautam Buddha. After all he is the reason the day is celebrated and observed worldwide and he is the founder of a new religion.
However Lord Gautam Buddha wished that at the end lay when he was breathing his final words, he wished that his devotees should not only see his death as a day to only pay homage to him and gift him precious garlands and sweets.
He wanted his followers to remember his preached words and not to forget his essence of life teachings. One of such disciples was Ananda whom Lord Gautam Buddha found crying as he was breathing in his final days, he whispered to him to not cry and be sad.
He even explained that it is also a part of once life that everyone has to go and that it is an inevitable part of once life, but in order to attain moksha or eternity one must follow the path of dharma or righteousness.
There are certain simple principles that a follower or the one who practices Buddhism has to abide by so as to attain moksha or divine eternity.
To sum up the principles, these are service of mankind and promoting and observing humanity, live a rightful and honest lives, be a noble man, and practice that art of selflessness and forgiving.