Festival: Vesak Day
Vesak Day or How to celebrate the birthday of Buddha?
On the 13th of May 2014 Buddhists in Singapore and around the world celebrate Vesak day, the birthday of Buddha. To be exact, this day is not only to mark his birthday, but also the commemoration of his enlightening and his death, making Vesak Day the most important day for this Buddhist community.
The yearly celebration is held on the full moon of the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. Buddha left precise instructions for this day and celebrations start in the early morning well before sunrise. Besides the tributes to his person and teachings, there will be prayers and chants. Donations will be given to the poor and monks. Temples are decorated with lavish fresh flowers as a sign that life is perishable. The air will be filled with the smell and smoke of burning scented sticks.
Buddhists believe in performing good deeds on Vesak Day and many temples organize mass blood donations as well as the releasing of caged birds, both a symbol to release sins and negative energy. The day comes to a close with a candle light procession.
In Singapore, almost 33% of the population are Buddhists and there are many beautiful temples that are worth a visit:
- Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Temple also known as Bright Hill Temple
- Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
- Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple, also known as Twin Grove of the Lotus Mountain Buddhist Temple. It is Singapore’s oldest Buddhist temple and the second largest in Asia.
Advice from the local experts:
- Company and government offices are closed on that public holiday yet many people will hit the shopping malls and streets around Orchard Road and Marina Bay.
- Many families will visit attractions, have a picnic in a garden or park or gather around the public BBQ’s along the East Coast.
- Restaurants will be quite booked so we suggest to make reservations early.
- Be aware that there will be rituals and prayers at all Buddhist temples. While it is certainly very fascinating to observe, expect huge crowds and make sure you are properly dressed with long trousers and covered shoulders. No shoes are allowed in the temples and photography is usually prohibited.
Visit vesaksingapore.org/cgi-sys/suspendedpage.cgi for more information