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Vesak Day 2018: History and significance of the festival

On Vesāk Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate events of significance to Buddhists of all traditions: The birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha.


Devdiscourse News Desk 30 Apr 2018, 07:42 AM
  • Vesak Day the festival commemorating the birth, enlightenment (Buddhahood), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha. (Image Credit: PBS)

Vesak, also known as Buddha Purnima and Buddha Day is the festival commemorating the birth, enlightenment (Buddhahood), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada or southern tradition. Buddha Purnima falls on different days in different countries.

"Vesak", the Day of the Full Moon in the month of May, is the most sacred day to millions of Buddhists around the world. It was on the Day of Vesak two and a half millennia ago, in the year 623 B.C., that the Buddha was born. It was also on the Day of Vesak that the Buddha attained enlightenment, and it was on the Day of Vesak that the Buddha in his eighteength year passed away.

It is a holiday traditionally observed by Buddhists and some Hindus on different days in different parts of the world including India, Sr-Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia and the Philippines and in China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam as "Buddha's Birthday".

On Vesāk Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate events of significance to Buddhists of all traditions: The birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha.

The decision to agree to celebrate Wesākha as the Buddha’s birthday was formalized at the first conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in 1950 and in 1999, the United Nations recognized internationally the Day of Vesak to acknowledge the contribution that Buddhism, one of the oldest religions in the world, has made for over two and a half millennia and continues to make to the spirituality of humanity.

This day is commemorated annually at the UN Headquarters and other UN offices, in consultation with the relevant UN offices and with permanent missions, which also wish to be consulted.


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