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Buddha Day

May 19th 2021| Michael Mountford

Buddha Day

Most Buddhists believe in the teachings of a man called Siddhartha Gautama – also known as the Buddha.

Siddhartha is believed to have been a prince who was born into a wealthy family, in what is now modern-day Nepal, during the 5th Century BC.

It’s believed that Siddhartha Gautama realised that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness. So he travelled as a homeless holy man to learn more about the world and saw the suffering in the world.

It’s believed that after six years of studying and meditation on his travels, he became spiritually aware and reached his goal of finding meaning in life.

At this time, he became the Buddha and for the rest of his life he taught his followers of his experiences.

Buddha is a title, rather than a name, which means “The Enlightened One” or “The Awakened One”.

Vesak, also known as Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima or simply Buddha Day, is a holiday traditionally observed by Buddhists and some Hindus in South and Southeast Asia as well as Tibet and Mongolia. The festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha in Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism.

The date of Vesak changes each year as it takes places at the time of the first full moon of the ancient lunar month of Vesakha, which usually falls in May or early June.

This year the event takes place on the 26th of May and will be celebrated around the world by over half a billion people.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

In many countries, Buddhists will visit their local temple for services and teaching. They will give offerings to the monks of food, candles and flowers. Chanting and praying is also a very important part of Wesak.

The Bathing the Buddha ceremony is also often included. Water is poured over the shoulders of the Buddha as a reminder to purify their own minds from greed, hatred and ignorance.

Gifts are taken to an altar to be offered to the Buddha statues. This shows respect and gratitude to the Buddha for his life and teachings.

Celebrations can vary from one country to another. In Thailand and Indonesia, for example, special Wesak lanterns are made of paper and wood. In China, dancing dragons are incorporated into the celebrations.

Another popular custom in some countries is to release caged birds. This represents letting go of troubles and wishing that all people are well and happy.

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.

What is the Vesak Festival?

Vesak Festival 2018

Vesak Lanterns

During Vesak, Buddhists will remember the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha. Colourful lanterns and lights are a homage to the Buddha and his teachings to the world.


One of the traditional Vesak lanterns is called the “Atapattama” (octagon-shaped lantern) and can be decorated in beautiful shades with long frills.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Easy Paper Vesak Lantern

A lovely hanging display for your classroom which will be a great addition to your own Vesak celebrations.

Bamboo Vesak Lantern

A lovely hanging display for your classroom which will be a great addition to your own Vesak celebrations. This tutorial is more traditional in its design but is also more difficult and utilises short pieces of bamboo as its main frame.

Have a Great Day!

I hope you all have a fun filled day celebrating Buddha Day!

Make sure to tag us on social media with any photos from the day 🙂

If you have any great teaching ideas for this topic, feel free to comment below (they might even get added to the topic calendar!)

View all posts by: Michael Mountford
Categories: Topic Calendar
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