Communal Celebration of Wesak –
The global festival celebrating the Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment and death
Tuesday, May 22
5:30 – 6:15 pm Arbor Decoration
6:15 pm Celebration
Wesak or Vesak (“Wee-sack”) is the festival celebrating the Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment and death held on the full moon in May. It is celebrated world-wide as the most significant annual Buddhist celebration for many cultures.
The public is invited to join the Dharma Center
in a family-friendly celebration.
5:30 – 6:15 (Optional) decorating the arbor with flowers
6:15 – 7:30 Family-friendly ritual celebration and social reception
photo from 2016 Wesak celebration
courtesy of the Bozeman Zen Group
How to pronounce Wesak: click here for audio.
The Significance of Wesak
This most important Buddhist festival is known as either Vesak, Wesak or Buddha Day, and is celebrated annually on the full moon of the ancient lunar month of Vesakha, which usually falls in May, or in early June.
At Vesak Buddhists commemorate the birth of the Buddha-to-be, Siddhattha Gotama, his Enlightenment at the age of 35 when he became the Buddha and his final ‘passing’ into Nirvana at the age of 80, no more to be reborn. Buddhist scriptures relate that each of these three significant events occurred on a full moon of the Indian lunar month of Vesakha.
Traditionally, his birth is supposed to have been in 623 BC but the Buddhist calendar is counted from his final passing, eighty years later. The older tradition of Vesak is to celebrate all three events but there are some more recent Buddhist schools and groups that celebrate just the birth and others only the Enlightenment.
There are some cultural and local differences in how the various Buddhist groups and nations celebrate Vesak, but broadly speaking devout Buddhists will try to attend their local temple for at least part of the day, while some remain there throughout the day and night of the full moon. The celebration will include the practices of Giving, Virtue and Cultivation and the doing of good and meritorious deeds.
Giving usually involves bringing food to offer and share, as well as supplies for the temple and symbolic offerings for the shrine. Virtue is observed by reaffirming commitment to the moral precepts. Cultivation can include chanting, meditation and listening to sermons.
This excerpt taken from the BBC; full article found here.