Wesak/Vaisakha Puja/Bodhi Day (Theravada Mahayana)

Wesak(Buddha Day) is the most sacred holy day of Theravada Buddhism and is celebrated at the time of the full moon in Taurus(usually falls in April or May). It commemorates three significant events in Gautama Buddha’s life – namely his birthday, his enlightenment and his passing away.

It is also called Veshakha, Wosak, Vesak, Baishakha, Buddha's moon, Buddha Poornima, Gurupurnima, Vesakha Poya Day ,Budhha Jayanti,Hari Waisak,Hanamatsuri

The festival is a celebration of much colour and gaiety.

Legend
          Sakyamuni Buddha was born in the Garden of Lumbini, located near the present day of Kapilavastu , Nepal. His mother was Queen Maya and young Siddhartha was the crown prince of the Sakya tribe. At the time of his birth, his mother was traveling home to see her parents and had stopped in the lush garden to rest. After his birth, Siddhartha took seven steps represent seven directions -- north, south, east, west, up, down, and here., each treading on a lotus flower and declared "I alone am the World-Honored One."And he pointed up with one hand and down with the other, to indicate he would unite heaven and earth.And t this moment, the heavens offered flowers and the nine celestial dragons washed him with fragrant rain that sprang from their mouths. After the bath, the young prince was purified in body and mind.

Rituals
          Before the actual day of the celebration they will eat a vegetarian diet so that they will be cleansed and purified.

Washing the baby Buddha - A small standing figure of the baby Buddha, with the right hand pointing up and the left hand pointing down, is placed on an elevated stand within a basin filled with water and decorated with flowers People approach the altar reverently, fill a ladle with water or tea, and pour it over the figure to "wash" the baby serves as a reminder to purify one's heart and mind from greed, hatred and ignorance. Also to re-enact the event following Buddha’s birth, when the devas and spirits made heavenly offerings to him.

Lamp Lighting - Light is ever a symbol of knowledge and dispelling of darkness.


Traditions

  • Homes and shrines are cleaned and decorated with lanterns made of paper or wood. 
  • People give offerings to monks. 
  • They bring offerings of flowers, joss-sticks and candles to temples. This is to remind them that, just as flowers wither and die, and joss sticks and candles burn away, so too is life – temporary. 
  • They listen to a talk by the monks about Buddha's life and Enlightenment. 
  • Ceremonial releases of caged birds and animals such as doves and tortoises,symbolising of one releasing the soul and giving up for the sins that they have made in the past. 
  • Buddhists assemble in various temples before dawn for the ceremonial hoisting of the Buddhist Flag. 
  • Mutual service to humanity meditate and chant. 
  • Providing vegetarian meals to the poor and needy. 
  • Traditional dragon and lion dances. 
  • They circuit the temple