Vesak [May 5] - Meaning, History, Significance

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 30, 2023, 14:01

On Vesak, people commemorate the day of Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. Vesak will be celebrated on May 5, 2023, the full moon day of May. This is one of the most important Holy Days for Buddhists around the world and is observed in Southeast Asia, Mongolia, and Tibet.

The United Nations recognized Vesak Day in 1999 to acknowledge Buddhism as one of the oldest religions in the world. In this article, we have shared further information about Vesak, its history and its significance among Buddhists worldwide.

What is Vesak Day?

Vesak commemorates the birth of Buddha, the day when Buddha attained enlightenment, and also his last day on earth. Observed on the full moon day in May, Buddhists celebrate this day by praying, meditating and doing good deeds. Vesak Day 2023 will be celebrated on May 5.

Buddha's teachings are conveyed in the main prayers of Vesak and they describe:

  1. The significance of meditation.
  2. The significance of the three jewels.
  3. The importance of universal peace and freedom from suffering.
  4. The importance of living in harmony with nature and others.
  5. The correctness of universal love and compassion in every aspect of life.

Vesak - History

Vesak has been celebrated by Buddhists for thousands of years. Acknowledging the importance of the occasion, the United Nations adopted the day in 1999 by passing a resolution. The aim of this making Vesak an international day was to promote the spiritual teachings of Buddha.

  • The celebrations of Vesak Day provide an opportunity to understand the life, teachings and enlightenment of Lord Buddha.
  • On the day of Vesak, people meditate, visit monasteries and temples and listen to sermons on the significance of this day.
  • Buddhists around the world especially commemorate Vesak Day by praying for peace, happiness and freedom from suffering in their life.

Vesak Day - Significance

The significance of Vesak Day lies in the fact that it is the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha and the day when he attained Enlightenment. All Buddhist people around the world celebrate Vesak by doing meditation, offering flowers and food to monks, and chanting prayers.

On Vesak, the message of the Buddha is remembered: that the best way for man to end suffering is to live in harmony with nature and others. He also said that true happiness lies only in achieving enlightenment.

Interesting Facts about Vesak

The following facts should be remembered on Vesak Day:

  1. Vesak is celebrated on a full moon's day in May. On this day, people meditate and do good deeds.
  2. Vesak dates back 5000 years.
  3. Vesak was also considered a holy day by many ancient civilisations like the Greeks, Egyptians and Celts many centuries ago.
  4. The Greek poet Homer says: The beginning of the world was not when the maker of heaven and earth fashioned it, but when lighted first appeared” The world is said to have begun with a ray of light from Buddha's eyes.
  5. The Buddha was born at a time of great darkness and despair. He left a golden age and brought back to people the knowledge of goodness. The world has come to be what it is today because of his teachings and that is what Vesak Day acknowledges.

Vesak Day in India

Indian Buddhists celebrate Vesak with great enthusiasm. On this day, people organize a gathering in their houses where monks are invited to preach. Vesak Day is an important occasion for Indian Buddhists as it signifies three things:

  1. The day Buddha was born.
  2. The day he attained enlightenment.
  3. The day he left the mortal body.

How to Celebrate Vesak Day?

Vesak is celebrated every year with great enthusiasm in Tibet, Southeast Asia, and Mongolia. Here are some of the ways people observe this day.

  • On Vesak Day, people make arrangements to attend the Buddhist festival.
  • In ancient times, monks used to move from one place to another. They would stay in a place for three days and then leave after the celebration of Vesak Day.
  • However, today people organize Vesak celebrations in their houses, where monks are invited for preaching.
  • On Vesak Day, Arhats take out processions around the city singing hymns praising Buddha's life and teachings.
  • The pictures of Buddha are also brought out in processions on Vesak for the devotees.

Important Current Affairs Topics

World Book and Copyright DayFather of Science
International Mine Awareness DayNational Pet Day
National Safe Motherhood Day Panchayati Raj Day
North India StatesWorld Autism Awareness Day
World Day for Safety and Health at WorkWorld Heritage Day

FAQs on Vesak

Q1. When is Vesak celebrated?

Vesak is celebrated on the full moon day of May. This year, Vesak Day will be celebrated on May 5. This is a Holy Day for Buddhists, who pray, meditate and honor Lord Buddha on this day. Vesak is celebrated in parts of Southeast Asia, Mongolia, and Tibet.

Q2. Why is Vesak Day celebrated?

Vesak Day is celebrated because it marks the day of birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha. It is believed that Buddha was born on a full moon day in May, later attained enlightenment, and passed away, again, on a full moon day in May.

Q3. Who celebrates Vesak?

Vesak is the main festival of Buddhists around the world and it is celebrated in countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and others. Buddhists from Southeast Asia, Tibet and Mongolia celebrate Vesak on the full moon day of May.

Q4. What do Buddhists do on Vesak?

On Vesak Day, Buddhists pray for peace, enlightenment and immortality of Lord Buddha and perform rituals for the same. Vesak 2023 will be celebrated on May 5. On Vesak Day, Arhats also take out processions around the city, singing hymns praising Buddha's life and teachings

Q5. Vesak commemorates the birth of?

The festival of Vesak commemorates the birth of Lord Buddha. Celebrated on the full moon day in May, Vesak also marks the day when Buddha attained enlightenment (Nirvana), and later, death. A special prayer is performed by Buddhists on this day.

Q6. What is the significance of Vesak Day?

Vesak Day is significant because it shows that the life, teachings and enlightenment of Lord Buddha are important for those who worship Him. It is a period when people meditate, venerate and praise Lord Buddha by making prayers and conducting rituals.