How is Vesak celebrated around the globe?
Vesak is one of the most important festivals celebrated in Buddhism. Not only in India, but the festival is observed throughout the globe, including countries like Nepal, South Korea, China, Shri Lanka, and many more. The celebration marks the birth of Buddha, and people around the world celebrate by lighting lanterns in the name of his teachings. Many of you must be obviously aware of Lord Buddha, but for those who don’t- below is his life story.
Buddha was born as Prince Siddharta Gautama about 2,600 years ago in Lumbini, Nepal, which is situated near the border of India. It was predicted that either he will become a mighty ruler or spiritual leader. But his parents were sold for a king restrain him from any kind of sufferings. Siddharta never in his life had ever witnessed any type of distress or pain and spend his life full of luxuries. He was always surrounded by beautiful ladies, and at the age of 29, he even won his wife, Yasodhara, at an archery competition. For the next years, he spent a good life with his wife. But one day, when he was at an outing, he saw sufferings for ten fast times by seeing an ailing and a dead man. Buddha was depressed over the fact that he was not able to save any of them. So the whole night, he kept thinking about the incident, and one beautiful night he left his palace and went on to become a monk. He seeks teachings from various spiritual leaders only to realize that they can only enlighten them with spiritual knowledge but not with the enlightenment of the mind. So for the next years, he meditated under the Boddhi tree and opened his account towards the understanding of mental peace. In May, on the full moon night, he realized that he finally has attained complete knowledge. And from there begins his journey of becoming Lord Buddha. After that, for the next 45 years, he traveled on foot throughout north India and passed on his knowledge to others. He answered their questions and encouraged his students to question his teachings and confirm through their own experiences.
When he turned 80, in May, Buddha left his body, and his last words were, “I can die happily. I have not kept a single teaching hidden in a closed hand. Everything useful to you, I have already given. Be your own guiding light.” After his death, his teachings took up as a religion named Buddhism, which originated mainly from India but later spread throughout the Globe.
Teachings of Lord Buddha:
Buddha’s teachings depend upon four principles or popularly known as the Four Noble Truths. That the “Suffering is common, and Everyone suffers”, “Causes of Suffering are Self, greed, desires and ignorance”, “End of Suffering – Renunciation of greed and ignorance” and the “Path to end Suffering is the correct way of living and following the eightfold path of life which is – Right Knowledge, Right Attitude, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Means of Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Awareness, and Right Meditation”. According to him, the supreme power of the universe contains no name and shape. Always do well to others and never let your time waste on the things that may cause harm to others. Before criticizing anyone else, first, see what you are doing. He also believed that death is not the end of life, and once a person is dead, his remains are dug into the soil, and the earth from there grows a plant, and so life continues.
Though Buddhism originated from India, the country today has 9,250,000 Buddhists, which sums up to 1.8% of the entire population. Outside India, Buddhism is most famous in China, with a total population of 244,130,000 people or 18.2% of its total population. Apart from it, Thailand has 64,420,000 followers of Buddhism. Countries like Japan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, and Cambodia also have quite a large population of Buddhists.
Vesak is celebrated on different days among the countries according to the lunar calendar. It is celebrated on the first full moon in May. The celebration is done mostly on three aspects- birth, enlightenment, and death, which, according to many scholars, happened on the same day in his life. In South Korea, people light up the lanterns and decorate the temples with lotus flowers. In Shri Lanka, people light up colorful lamps and decorate synagogues and homes by electric lights and candles. In Taiwan, people pour fragrant water over the statue of Buddha, which symbolizes the fresh start of life. In Singapore, devotees set caged birds or any other pet free as the symbol of freedom, though it has been banned in many places because it is said the freed animals can’t survive on their own and thus die suffering which causes a loss to the ecosystem. Whereas in INDIA people pray and wear white color clothes. They lit lanterns at night and decorate the temple with golden lights and candles. And just like that celebrating Vesak is different for everyone and depends upon individual how the meaningfully they celebrate it! In Taiwan, people pour fragrant water over the statue of Buddha, which symbolizes the fresh start of life. In Singapore, devotees set caged birds or any other pet free as the symbol of freedom, though it has been banned in many places because it is said the freed animals can’t survive on their own and thus die suffering which causes a loss to the ecosystem. Whereas in INDIA people pray and wear white color clothes. They lit lanterns at night and decorate the temple with golden lights and candles. And just like that celebrating Vesak is different for everyone and depends upon individual how the meaningfully they celebrate it!