- This article deals with the East Asian holiday. See also Vesak.
Buddha's Birthday (simplified Chinese: 佛诞; traditional Chinese: 佛誕; ||pinyin]]: fó dàn; Cantonese: fātdáan; Vietnamese: Phật Đản), the birthday of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama traditionally celebrated in East Asia on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, is an official holiday in Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea. The date varies from year to year in the Western (Gregorian) calendar:
- 2003: May 8
- 2004: May 26
- 2005: May 15 (This is a Sunday, hence May 16 becomes a holiday in Hong Kong and Macau.)
- 2006: May 5
- 2007: May 24
- 2008: May 12
- 2009: May 2
- 2010: May 21
- 2011: May 10
- 2012: May 28
- 2013: May 17
- 2014: May 6
- 2015: May 25
Birth of Buddha or Tathagata is celebrated in India, especially in Sikkim, Ladakh , Arunachal Pradesh, Bodh Gaya and Maharashtra (where 6% of total population are Buddhists) and other parths of India as per Indian calendar. Buddhist People go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, as something like a service. The usual dress is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Gautama Buddha's life, offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge.
The birth of the Buddha is often celebrated by Buddhists in Nepal for an entire month in the Buddhist calendar. The actual day is called Buddha Poornima (or Buddha Purnima), also traditionally known as Vaishakh Poornima. Although the day marks not just the birth of Shakyamuni Gautam Buddha, but also the day of Enlightenment, and Mahaparinirvana. But as a gentle effect of West, the event of Birth is given paramount importance.
The event is celebrated by gentle and serene fervour, keeping in mind the very nature of Buddhism. People, especially women, go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, as something like a service. The usual dress is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Gautama Buddha's life, offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge after he had given up the path of asceticism following six years of extreme austerity. This event was one major link in his enlightenment.
It is said that the Buddha originally followed the way of asceticism to attain enlightenment sooner, as was thought by many at that time. He sat for a prolonged time with inadequate food and water, which caused his body to shrivel so as to be indistinguishable from the bark of the tree that he was sitting under. Seeing the weak Siddhartha Gautama, a girl named Sujata placed a bowl of milk in front of him as an offering. Realizing that without food one can do nothing, the Buddha refrained from harming his own body.
In Japan, Buddha's Birthday is also celebrated according to the Buddhist calendar but is not a national holiday. On this day, all temples do celebratory events/festivals called Kanbutsu-e (Japanese: 灌仏会), 降誕会 (Goutan-e), 仏生会 (Busshou-e), 浴仏会 (Yokubutsu-e), 龍華会 (Ryuge-e), 花会式 (Hana-eshiki) or 花祭(Hana-matsuri, meaning 'Flower Festival'). The first event was held at Asuka-dera in 606. Japanese people pour ama-cha (a beverage prepared from a variety of hydrangea) on small Buddha statues decorated with flowers, as if bathing a newborn baby.
In Korea the birthday of Buddha is celebrated according to the Lunisolar calendar. This day is called 석가탄신일 (Seokga tansinil), meaning "the day of Buddha's birthday" or 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim osin nal) meaning "the day when Buddha arrived". Lotus lanterns cover the entire temple throughout the month which are often flooded down the street. On the day of Buddha's birth, many temples provide free meals and tea to all visitors. The breakfast and lunch provided are often sanchae bibimbap.
This is one of the major festivals in Sri Lanka. It is celebrated on the first full moon day of the month of May. People engage in religious observances and decorate houses and streets with candles and specially made lanterns.
Some places have a public holiday one week later, on the fifteenth day of the fourth month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, to coincide with the full moon. For instance, Visakha Puja in Thailand or Lễ Phật đản in Vietnam was such a holiday on May 12 in 2006. Other countries including Singapore and Malaysia also celebrate Vesak Day on the fifteenth day of the fourth month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, a public holiday in these two countries.
- Public holidays in Hong Kong
- Bun Festival - a festival held on the same day in Hong Kong.
- Public holidays in Macau
- Public holidays in South Korea
- Holidays in Taiwan
- Holidays of Japan
- Public holidays in Myanmar
- Holidays in Vietnam
- Public holidays in Thailand
- Public holidays in Shrilanka
- Public holidays in Bhutan
- Public holidays in India
- The Folkloric Study of Chopail (Buddha's Birthday), written by Prof. M.Y.Pyeon. Produced by Minsokwon in Seoul Korea 2002.