Vesak Day, celebrated by Buddhists around the world commemorates the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of Siddharta Gautama Shakyamuni Buddha.
However, the date of Vesak Day varies around the world depending on the lunar calendars used in different cultures. In countries following the Western Gregorian calendar, it will happen in May. However, in China, Japan and Korea, Vesak Day is celebrated in April. In Thailand, it is celebrated much later.
On Vesak Day, devout Buddhists will usually visit their temples for prayers and offerings of candles and flowers. Other rituals include bathing of the Buddha statue, sharing in vegetarian meals as well as listening to teachings by monks.
Releasing caged birds and animals is a common practice. It symbolises liberation. But in recent years, eco awareness has resulted in more restraint as most tame animals let into the wild might not survive and those animals that do survive might upset the ecosystem in the wild.
In Singapore, Vesak Day was made a public holiday in 1955. To all the readers of this blog, have a serene and joyful Vesak Day