The Vesak festival, or Buddha Day, celebrates three major events in the life of the Buddha: his birth, Enlightenment and passing away on the full moon of the 6th lunar month (May). It is the most important festival in the Buddhist lunar calendar.
Buddhist festivals are a time for joy. The give Buddhists an opportunity to meet together, to take the Three Refuges and learn more about the Buddha’s teachings. Families bring food, candles and flowers to the monks in the monasteries. In return, the monks chant the scriptures, lead a period of meditation and give teachings on the themes of the festival.
There is a party feel to the whole occasion. Houses and streets are cleaned and decorated with Buddhist flags and flowers. In villages, Buddhists gather around statues of the Buddha when it is dark. They walk around the statue with candles till all is covered in light.
During the Vesak celebration, an image of the new-born Buddha – in the gesture of pointing to the Truth – is usually displayed in the shrine room.
- via Buddhanet
As previously mentioned, I recently had the honor of being a guest speaker at the Southern California University Buddhist Association’s 2010 Vesak Day Celebration at the University of California-Irvine campus on May 8th. The event is held each year “to commemorate, celebrate, and rejoice in the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and nirvana.” SCUBA was kind enough to invite me last year, though a previous engagement prevented me from attending. I was touched to be invited again this year, and especially happy to be able to accept. It was a wonderful, memorable event, and I look forward to attending more Vesak celebrations with SCUBA in the future. Please enjoy some pictures of mine and others below.