Buddhists around the world celebrating Vesak

A Vesak celebration in Sri Lanka, 2011

Buddhists around the world are gearing up for Vesak, the annual celebration of the Buddha’s birthday. The full moon in May, for many, marks the day that the Buddha was born. On the same day, many Buddhist communities also celebrate major events in the Buddha’s life, mainly his attainment of enlightenment and his parinirvana. Vesak Day has Southeast Asian origins, and while it might be considered a Theravadan holiday, other Buddhist traditions, including Zen and some Tibetan, choose to celebrate Vesak Day.

For many groups, the holiday falls on May 24 this year, but celebrations have been taking place throughout May and are scheduled into June. The difference in dates is partially due to the complications of using a lunar calendar, as well as the needs and availability of each center’s practitioners.

Many Buddhist groups are celebrating the holiday in the coming weeks, including Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, the Vermont Zen Center, the Toronto Zen Center, and more. Others, including many Buddhists in Korea, celebrated earlier — click here to see a slideshow from a Vesak parade in Seoul last weekend.

Photo: Gerald Pereira via Flickr, CC-BY license.