Vesak Day ( Vesakha ) is celebrated by Buddhist all over the world in Nepal, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar (Burma), Vietnam, Laos and by Buddhists in some Western countries. Vesak Day is usually a public holiday in these Southeast Asian countries. Vesak Day is beginning of The Buddhist calendar month of Vesak. On Vesak Day, Buddhists celebrate triple anniversary of Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gautama Buddha since on this day Buddha was born, attained Supreme Enlightenment at the age of thirty five, and after a successful ministry of forty five years attained Parinirvana. It is the auspicious Vesak (May) full moon Poya Day.
In Mahayana Buddhist traditions, Vesak day is known as Vesakha , also as Wesak in the Sinhalese language.Other names are: Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti in India, Bangladesh and Nepal, Hanamatsuri in Japan, Seokka Tanshin-il (Hanja) in Korean, (Mandarin: Fódàn, Cantonese: Fātdàahn) in Chinese-speaking communities, Phat Dan in Vietnamese, Saga Dawa inTibetan,Visak Bochéa in Khmer,Visakah Puja ( Visakha Bucha) in Thai,Waisak in Indonesia, The equivalent festival in Laos is called Vixakha Bouxa and in Myanmar is called Ka-sone-la-pyae meaning “Fullmoon Day of Kasone” which is also the second month of the Myanmar Calendar. It is primarily a Theravada Buddhist holiday
In Singapore the day usually starts with monks chanting Sutras. This is followed by the ceremonial release of small animals or caged birds. This is considered an act of generosity, symbolic of generating good karma. The act also symbolizes the Buddha’s compassion for all things.
In China Vesak Day called Guanfo (bathing the Buddha) or yufo (Buddha’s birthday celebration featuring washing Buddha image with perfumed water). The celebrations begin before sunrise and devotees throng the temples early at dawn to meditate. Chanshi (the ceremony of chanting the sutras and confession and prayer) is practiced by monks.
In Japan, where Zen Buddhism is practiced, Buddhists have fixed the Buddha’s birthday at 8 April. On this day, nuns, monks and lay people construct small shrines out of flowers, and place small idols of the Buddha on them. This Buddha idol is bathed in a ritual commemorating the Buddha’s birth.
In Myanmar (Burma), Buddhists set aside a day every month in honor of the Buddha. On this day, Buddhists are encouraged to water or tend to Bodhi trees. This is significant because the Buddha attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. In Sri Lanka, houses are covered in lights and candles to celebrate Vesak Day.
In India, Vesak Day is known as Buddha Purnima. On this day, Buddhists do not eat meat. This is considered an act of compassion towards animals. People are encouraged to perform other acts of kindness such as sharing food with the poor. Some people even set up road stalls providing free, clean drinking water.