Vesak (Waisak) Festival in Borobudur, Indonesia



Vesak or Waisak Festival, a Buddhist festival, in the month of May celebrates the birth, death and the enlightenment of Siddharth Gautam as Buddha Shakyamuni. All three events together are called Vesak Trisuci. Vesak is called Buddha’s day.

Interesting Features of Waisak Festival

  • The religious festival, held on the evening of the full moon day in the month of May, takes place in the 9th century A.D Borobudur temple.
  • The monks dress in saffron robes, carry candles and orange flowers as offerings with them. Their procession starts in the evening when the temple is washed by the moonlight.
  • They light the candles and chant holy chants. They also pray and meditate at the same time. After the completion of prayers the pilgrims follow the Pradaksina ritual, where they circle the temple three times. Marking the end of the ceremony thousands of Puja Lanterns are released into the sky that symbolizes enlightenment for the entire universe.
  • The whole atmosphere of the festival is spiritual and tranquil. The true essence of the Buddhist religion can be understood from this grand festival. It is an amazing festival worth experiencing.
  • It’s a day that promises vibrant colours, plenty of celebrations and many spectacular sights. Even if you are not a Buddhist, this day offers plenty of varied traditions that are marvelous to witness.
  • Many Buddhists will release hundreds of small animals into the wild, such as birds or insects in an act of “liberation”; this is a symbolic act designed to wish freedom upon those who are in captivity, imprisoned or tortured against their will.
  • Devout Buddhists might choose to make charitable donations to the less fortunate and will seek to bring happiness to those who need it most on this day, such as the elderly, the handicapped and the ill of health.
  • The procession leaves Mendut mid-afternoon, cutting a line through the crowds and food and souvenir stalls. At Borobudur the crowds gather and, as the full moon rises, candles are lit and flowers strewn about as offerings, followed by praying and chanting.
  • This significant and traditional holy day is observed throughout Indonesia, and beyond too: other countries that celebrate this holiday include Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand and India.

If you’re planning a Travel to Indonesia, we recommend that you visit in early spring to witness how Buddhists from all across the country meet up to observe the holy Waisak Day festival.

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