Buddhist Communities Celebrate the Holy Day of Vesak

For more photos and videos from Vesak, explore the Lumbini and Swayambhu location pages and browse the #Vesak, #Wesak and #BuddhasBirthday hashtags.

This week, Buddhist communities throughout the world celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha, widely known as Vesak (or Wesak). While countries celebrate the holiday at different times during the spring season, it is most commonly observed during the first full moon in May. The day of Vesak is a public holiday for many Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Though Vesak traditions and rituals vary across the world, many visit Buddhist temples to make prayers. Other customs include decorating temples with colorful lotus-motif lanterns, parading electrical floats that depict stories from Buddha’s life, taking part in volunteer work and pouring scented water over statues of Buddha. In Nepal, thousands of Buddhist pilgrims from around the world come together for prayers and celebrations at Lumbini, Buddha’s birth place. The holy Buddhist temple of Swayambhu located east of Lumbini also opens to the public on the day of Vesak—the only time it’s accessible to outsiders each year.