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Buddha's Birthday is a holiday traditionally celebrated in Mahayana Buddhism to commemorate the birth of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, later the Gautama Buddha and founder of Buddhism. According to the Theravada Tripitaka scriptures[which?] (from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), Gautama was born in Lumbini in modern-day Nepal, in the year 563 BCE, according to the Tibetan Account, and raised in Kapilavastu.[2][3] At the age of thirty five, he attained enlightenment (nirvana) underneath a Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya (modern day India). He delivered his first sermon at Sarnath, India. At the age of eighty, He died at Kushinagar, India.[4]

Buddha's Birthday
Baby Siddarhtha.JPG
A statue of the child Gautama Buddha as depicted in his apocryphal story of birth
Official name Fódàn (佛誕)
Phật Đản
Chopa-il (초파일, 初八日)
বুদ্ধ পূর্ণিমা
बुद्ध जयन्ती
Also called Buddha's Birthday
Buddha Purnima
Buddha Jayanti
Observed by Buddhists
Type Buddhist, cultural
Significance Celebrates the birthday of Gautama Buddha

varies by region:

  • April 8 or May 8 (Japan)
  • Second Sunday in May (Taiwan)
  • 8th day of 4th lunar month (mainland East Asia)
  • first full moon of Vaisakha (South Asia and Southeast Asia)
2016 date 14 May
2017 date 10 May
2018 date 21 May
Frequency annual
Related to Vesak
Buddha's Birthday
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabet Phật Đản
Korean name
Hangul 부처님 오신 날
Japanese name
Kanji 灌仏会

The exact date of Buddha's Birthday is based on the Asian lunisolar calendars. The date for the celebration of Buddha's Birthday varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years it may be celebrated in June.



The exact date of Buddha's Birthday is based on the Asian lunisolar calendars and is primarily celebrated in Baisakh month of the Buddhist calendar and the Bikram Sambat Hindu calendar, and hence it is also called Vesak. In modern-day India and Nepal, where the Historical Buddha lived, it is celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on a full moon Uposatha day, typically in the 5th or 6th lunar month. In China and Korea, it is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The date varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years it may be celebrated in June. In Tibet, it falls on the 7th day of the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar (in May).

South and Southeast AsiaEdit

In South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, Buddha's birthday is celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar and the Hindu calendar, which usually falls in April or May month of the Western Gregorian calendar. The festival is known as Buddha Purnima, as Purnima means full moon day in Sanskrit. It is also called is Buddha Jayanti, with Jayanti meaning birthday in Sanskrit Language.

The corresponding Western Gregorian calendar dates varies from year to year:

  • 2014: May 14
  • 2015: May 4
  • 2016: May 21
  • 2017: May 10
  • 2018: May 29

East Asia except JapanEdit

In many East Asian countries Buddha's Birth is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar (in Japan since 1873 on April 8 of the Gregorian calendar), and the day is an official holiday in Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea. The date falls from the end of April to the end of May in the Gregorian calendar.

The primarily solar Gregorian calendar date varies from year to year:

  • 2013: May 17
  • 2014: May 6
  • 2015: May 25
  • 2016: May 14
  • 2017: May 3
  • 2018: May 22
  • 2019: May 12
  • 2020: April 30
  • 2021: May 19
  • 2022: May 8


In 1999 the Taiwanese government set Buddha's birthday as the second Sunday of May, the same date as Mother's Day.[5][6]


As a result of the Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar in lieu of the Chinese lunar calendar in 1873. Therefore, in most Japanese temples, Buddha's birth is celebrated on the Gregorian calendar date April 8; only a few (mainly in Okinawa) celebrate it on the orthodox Chinese calendar date of the eighth day of the fourth lunar month.

Celebrations in each countryEdit



In Bangladesh the event is called দোদ্ধ পূর্ণিমা or Buddho Purnima. On the day of proceeding Purnima buddhist monks and priests decorate temple in colourful decorations and candles. On the day of the festival the President and Prime Minister deliver speeches about the history and importance of Buddhism and religious harmony in the country. From noon onwards large fairs are held in and around Temples and viharas selling bangles, food (largely vegeterian), clothes, toys and conducting performances of buddha's life, buddhist music teaching about the Dharma and the 5 precepts. Later on Buddhists attend a congression inside the monastery where the chief monk would deliver a speech discussing the Buddha and the 3 jewels and about living the ideal life after which a prayer to the buddha would be conducted and people would then light candles and recite the three jewels and 5 precepts.[7][8]


In Cambodia, Buddha's birthday known as Visak Bochea is a public holiday and monks around the country carry flags, lotus flowers, incense and candles to acknowledge Vesak. People also take part in alms giving to the monks.[9]


In China, celebrations often occur in Buddhist temples where people light incense and bring food offerings for the monks.[10] In Hong Kong, Buddha's birthday is a public holiday. Lanterns are lit to symbolise the Buddha's enlightenment and many people visit the temple to pay their respects. The bathing of the Buddha is a major feature of Buddha's birthday celebrations in the city.[11]


India is the land where the Buddha attained enlightenment (nirvana) at Bodhgaya and established Buddhism. Buddha spent majority of his life in what is now modern day India. Some of the holiest sites associated with Buddha's life include Bodhgaya (place of enlightenment), Sarnath (site of first sermon), Sravasti and Rajgir (site where Buddha spent the greater part of his monastic life and delivered majority of his discourses), and Kushinagar (site where Buddha attained Parinirvana and passed away)[12][13] Under Emperor Ashoka, Buddhism spread from India to other nations.[4] Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanthi in South India or Tathagata is a public holiday in India.The public holiday for Buddha purnima in India was initiated by Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar when he was the minister of social justice [14] It is celebrated especially in Sikkim, Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bodh Gaya, various parts of North Bengal such as Kalimpong, Darjeeling, and Kurseong, and Maharashtra (where 73% of total Indian Buddhists live) and other parts of India as per Indian calendar. Buddhists go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, akin to a service. The dress code is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Gautama Buddha's life, offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge. Informally called "Buddha's Birthday", it actually commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada tradition. Tibetans in exile remember Buddha's birthday on the 7th day of the Saga Dawa month (fourth month of the Tibetan calendar), which culminates with Buddha's parinirvana celebrations on the full moon day.

It is said that the Buddha originally followed the way of asceticism to attain enlightenment sooner, as was thought by many at that time. He sat for a prolonged time with inadequate food and water, which caused his body to shrivel so as to be indistinguishable from the bark of the tree that he was sitting under. Seeing the weak Siddhartha Gautama, a woman named Sujata placed a bowl of "Kheer" in front of him as an offering.[15] Realizing that without food one can do nothing, the Buddha refrained from harming his own body. Thereafter, he would go on to attain nirvana.


In Indonesia, Buddha's birthday known as Waisak is a public holiday. A large procession beginning in Mendut in Java ends at Borobudur – the largest Buddhist temple in the world.[16][17]


Hanamatsuri in Japan

In Japan, Buddha's Birthday is known as Kanbutsu-e (Japanese: 灌仏会) or Hana-matsuri (Flower Festival) (Japanese: 花祭) and is held on April 8. Buddha's birth is also celebrated according to the Buddhist calendar but is not a national holiday. On this day, all temples hold 降誕会 (Gōtan-e), 仏生会 (Busshō-e), 浴仏会 (Yokubutsu-e), 龍華会 (Ryūge-e), 花会式 (Hana-eshiki) or . The first event was held at Asuka-dera in 606. Japanese people pour ama-cha (a beverage prepared from a variety of hydrangea) on small Buddha statues decorated with flowers, as if bathing a newborn baby.


Lotus Lantern Festival celebrating Buddha's Birthday, in South Korea
Buddha lantern parade in Daegu, Korea

In Korea, the birthday of Buddha is celebrated according to the Lunisolar calendar. This day is called 석가탄신일 (Seokga tansinil), meaning "Buddha's birthday" or 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim osin nal) meaning "the day when the Buddha came". Lotus lanterns cover the entire temple throughout the month which are often flooded down the street. On the day of Buddha's birth, many temples provide free meals and tea to all visitors. The breakfast and lunch provided are often sanchae bibimbap.


In Malaysia, Buddha's birthday known as Wesak Day is a public holiday and is celebrated by the sizeable minority Buddhist population in the country. Temples across the country are decorated and caged animals are set free. People engage in prayers, chanting and giving across the country.[9]


In Myanmar, Buddha's birthday known as Full Moon of Kason is a public holiday. It is celebrated by watering the Bodhi tree and chanting. In large pagodas music and dance is also performed as part of the celebrations.[9]


Buddha statues at Swayambhu in Nepal

In Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha, his birthday is celebrated on the full moon day of May. The festival is known by various names, Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Vaishakh Purnima, Saga Dawa, and Vesak. Purnima means full moon day in Sanskrit. Among the Newars of Nepal, especially from the Shakya clan of Newars, it is of great importance because they consider it as a continuation of the sage of the Śākyas- the clan that Lord Buddha's family belonged to. Thus, they celebrate the festival which is in their language known as Swānyā Punhi (स्वांया पुन्हि), the full moon day of flowers.[18] The day marks not just the birth of Shakyamuni Gautam Buddha but also the day of his Enlightenment and Mahaparinirvana.

The event is celebrated by gentle and serene fervour, keeping in mind the very nature of Buddhism. People, especially women, go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, as something like a service. The usual dress is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata.


Around 2% of the population in the Philippines is Buddhist. Buddha's birthday known locally as Araw ng Bisyak is not a public holiday but is celebrated by the small community of Buddhists in the country. The bathing of the Buddha statue is a significant part of the celebrations in the country.[19]


In Singapore, Buddha's birthday known as Vesak or Vesak Day is a public holiday in the country. Buddhist temples hold celebrations and are decorated with Buddhist flags and flowers. Devotees also bring offerings to the temples.[20]

Sri LankaEdit

Vesak Thorana in Piliyandala, Sri Lanka
Floating lanterns on a lake for Buddha's Birthday in Jaffna, Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, Buddha's Birthday known as Vesak is a public holiday and is celebrated on the first full moon day of the month of May. People engage in religious observances and decorate houses and streets with candles and paper lanterns as well as bamboo-framed lanterns. Dansalas is practised and refers to the free offering of food and drink to people. Bakthi Gee – devotional songs are sung and pandols which are decorative gateways are erected throughout the country. Temples around the country also hold celebrations and devotees bring offerings and burn incense.[21] Electric light displays that depict stories from the Buddha's life are also a notable part of Vesak celebrations in the country.[22]


In Taiwan, Buddha's birthday is a public holiday. Devotees pour fragrant water over Buddha statues to symbolise the beginning of a fresh start in life.[23]


In Thailand, Buddha's birthday known as Visakha Puja is a public holiday. People gather at temples to hear sermons, give donations and chant prayers.[24]


Buddha's birthday is celebrated throughout Vietnam. Many Buddhist temples hold celebrations that attract people from around the country and pagodas around the country are decorated.[25] From 1958 to 1975, Lễ Phật Đản, the birthday of Buddha (on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar) was recognized as a national public holiday in South Vietnam,[26] enjoyed with float and lantern parade on the streets.

Festivities outside AsiaEdit


In Sydney, Buddha's birthday is celebrated at the Nan Tien Temple in Wollongong Australia and another celebration also organised by Nan Tien Temple is held at Darling Harbour which features Buddha's birthday ceremony, a variety of vegetarian food and culture stalls and multicultural performances from China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Australia and other cultures.[27][28] Other temples in the Fo Guang Shan Nan Tien Temple group in Australia on the eighth day of the fourth month of the China lunar calendar also hold celebrations.[29] In Brisbane, Buddha Birth Day Festival is held annually and features a variety of pan-Asian food and performances from multicultural acts.[30] It is a weekend-long festival which draws over 200 000 visitors.[31] In Melbourne, the weekend-long festival called Buddha's Day and Multicultural Festival is held at Federation Square around April/May.[32] In Perth, a two-day celebration also known as Buddha's Day and Multicultural Festival is held at Langley Park.[33] Local Buddhist temples and smaller towns around the country such as Bendigo, Victoria also hold celebrations.[34]

On the Australian external territory of Christmas Island, Buddha's Birthday known as "Vesak Day" on the island is celebrated alongside many other celebrations common in Australia and Malaysia as well as local celebrations of the island.[35][36]


In Toronto, three Buddhist temples representing the three main branches of Buddhism organize an annual event known as Vesak: Buddha's Birthday.[37] It is held at Mississauga Celebration Square and features a number of Buddhist themed events and activities as well as cultural acts from Asia, including China, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.[38][39][40]

United States of AmericaEdit

Celebration of Buddha's Birthday in the United States differ from community to community, depending on ethnicity and nationality.

The Japanese celebration on 8 April has been significant in the Bay Area for some decades. In 1968 the first circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpais to celebrate Buddha's Birthday was conducted. Starting in 1969 at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, Hana-Matsuri was celebrated each spring. Dressed in formal black robes, the roughly 70 monks and students formed a formal procession to the Horse Pasture with the leader periodically ringing a small, clear bell. A temporary stone altar was built under a huge oak tree in a gorgeous field of green grass and abundant wildflowers; a small statue of a baby Buddha was placed upon it in a metal basin. Then each person would in turn approach the altar, ladle one thin-lipped bamboo dipperful of sweet green tea over the statue, bow, and walk to one side.[41]

In New York, the International Lotus Lantern Parade has been a notable and successful annual event held at Union Square Park. The event celebrates the Buddha's birthday and Yeon Deung Hoe (연등회), a Korean lantern celebration that is held during Vesak. The festival features a number of Buddhist themed events and is started off by numerous Buddhist centres of Japanese, Korean and Sri Lankan origins for example.[42][43]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Official Site of Korea Tourism Org. National Holidays
  2. ^ UNESCO, Lumbini in Nepal is the birthplace of the Lord Buddha, Gethin Foundations, p. 19, which states that in the mid-3rd century BCE the Emperor Ashoka determined that Lumbini was Gautama's birthplace and thus installed a pillar there with the inscription: "... this is where the Buddha, sage of the Śākyas (Śākyamuni), was born."
  3. ^ For instance, Gethin Foundations, p. 14, states: "The earliest Buddhist sources state that the future Buddha was born Siddhārtha Gautama (Pali Siddhattha Gotama), the son of a local chieftain—a rājan—in Kapilavastu (Pali Kapilavatthu) what is now the Indian–Nepalese border." However, Professor Gombrich (Theravāda Buddhism, p. 1) and the old but specialized study by Edward Thomas, The Life of the Buddha, ascribe the name Siattha/fitta to later sources.
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Camaron Kao (May 14, 2012), "Thousands of believers mark Buddha's birthday", China Post 
  6. ^ Ko Shu-Ling (May 9, 2011), "Sakyamuni Buddha birthday celebrated", Taipei Times, The legislature approved a proposal in 1999 to designate the birthday of Sakyamuni Buddha — which falls on the eighth day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar — a national holiday and to celebrate the special occasion concurrently with International Mother’s Day, which is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. 
  7. ^ "বুদ্ধ পূর্ণিমা", সিলেবাসে নেই, দৈনিক কালের কণ্ঠ; ১১ মে ২০১১ খ্রিস্টাব্দ। পৃ. ৪। পরিদর্শনের তারিখ: ১৭ মে ২০১১ খ্রিস্টাব্দ।
  8. ^আজ-শুভ-বুদ্ধ-পূর্ণিমা
  9. ^ a b c
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Dunipace, Sujal Jane (May 2003). "Nepal's Buddha Jayanti Celebration". ECS Nepal. Archived from the original on 18 December 2011. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-11. 
  20. ^
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  26. ^ Niên biểu lịch sử Phật giáo Việt Nam Archived 15 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Buddha's Birthday Education Project". International Buddhist Progress Society. Retrieved 12 January 2014. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Buddha Birthday Festival". Buddha's Light International Association, Chung Tian Temple. Archived from the original on 26 January 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  32. ^ "Buddha's Birthday and Multicultural Festival". Buddha's Light International Association Victoria. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-06. 
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 October 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2015. 
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
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  41. ^
  42. ^[permanent dead link]
  43. ^

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Further readingEdit

  • The Folkloric Study of Chopail (Buddha's Birthday), written by Prof. M.Y.Pyeon. Produced by Minsokwon in Seoul Korea 2002.

External linksEdit