Last Saturday, May 21st, was a very special day in the Buddhist calendar. Known as Vesak (from Vesākha in Sanskrit language) or « Buddha Day », this date is a major Buddhist festival celebrating the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha (Gautama Buddha) on a full-moon day.
This holy day is traditionally observed by Buddhists in all Southeast Asian countries, as well as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, India and other places all over the world.
This year’s Vesak will celebrate the 2560th birthday of Buddha and ongoing celebrations will run for one week in the city, starting from last 14th of May and running until last Saturday.
For this special occasion, the regular practicing Buddhists flock together in the pagodas and temples to make offerings, pray and sing hymns. They wander the surrounding streets to see the decorations (giant flowers such as lotuses…) and participate in the festival & celebrations.
Above all, this Vesak day invokes peace, happiness and respect for all. On that special date, all Buddhists supposedly make special efforts to bring happiness to the unfortunate like the aged, the sick and the handicapped.
If you want to feel all that energy and really soak up such a busy and devout atmosphere, you definitely want to visit the pagodas of Cholon on that day. Be ready for the crowd and clouds of burning incense! It is an intense but truly memorable experience!