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WESAK DAY
or Vesak Day

Ben van Wijnen

"Wesak Day celebrations take place at Vihara Temple in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. The celebrations begin at dawn when devotees gather at the temples to meditate. In the evening, a candlelit procession takes place from the temple to the city. Kuala Lumpur. Many thousands of Buddhists and spectators line the route of the procession, which is led by a decorated float with a statue of the Buddha on it."


The parade in Kuala Lumpur

The Wesak Day Parade in Kuala Lumpur normally takes place at the Maha Vihara Buddhist temple in Brickfields. The parade follows the same route almost every year; past Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Bukit Bintang and back to Brickfields.
Prior to the parade, Buddhists from various temples decorate the vehicles carrying the Buddha images of their temples with flowers, lights, etc. Some of these vehicles on Wesak (or Vesak) also transport monks from their temple.

This parade of decorated floats lasts several hours and thousands of participants carry flowers, portraits of Buddha and candles. They accompany the floats with this.
For those who wish to witness the start of the parade, it is recommended that you reach the Brickfields area at least three hours before the start of the parade. The surrounding roads and streets quickly become congested before the parade begins.
The Wesak Day Parade takes place in different parts of Malaysia. The most important of these, which attracts thousands of people and tourists, takes place in the capital Kuala Lumpur, on Penang and in Melaka.

There are several ways to celebrate Wesak. The most common image of the Buddha, used for the bathing ritual, is the baby Buddha.
This form of Buddha Shakyamuni has his right hand turned upwards and is wearing a loincloth. According to the life story of the Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born beautiful and radiant. Immediately after his birth, the prince took seven steps. Lotuses sprang up from the ground where the prince put his feet. He raised his right hand to heaven, pointed his finger, while his left hand pointed to the earth.
In Malaysia, the Wesak celebration starts at dawn. The statue of the Buddha is usually displayed in front of the temple's main altar, in a basin filled with water and flowers. Devoted followers pour water over a baby statue of Buddha as they recite a verse of prayer. Pouring water over the statue symbolizes the cleansing of the follower's negative actions.


Bathing the Buddha

Wesak Day marks the three most important events in Buddha's life, namely his birth, his enlightenment and his realization of Nirvana. The commemoration of these events on Wesak Day usually begins at dawn in Buddhist temples across the country. It is celebrated in the month of May which usually has one full moon, sometimes there are two every now and then. When there are two full moons in the month of May, some countries (including Malaysia) celebrate Wesak Day on the first full moon. Wesak celebrations usually include cleansing the Buddha statue, refraining from eating meat, meditating and observing the eight precepts. People are encouraged to eat only vegetarian foods for the day.


Bathing the Buddha

Followers bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and incense to Buddha's feet. These symbolic offerings are intended to remind the faithful that just the beautiful flowers wither after a short time and the candles and incense soon burn up; likewise life is subject to decay and impermanence.
Buddhist followers and monks gather across the country to meditate on the eight precepts in Buddhist temples. There are chants in honor of the sacred triple gemstone: the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings) and the Sangha (his followers). Lectures are read by monks.

Celebrating Wesak also means making special efforts to bring happiness to those in need, such as the elderly, the disabled and the sick. To this day, Buddhists will hand out gifts in the form of cash or volunteer in various charities across the country.
At the Wesak, about 15,000 packs of free vegetarian lunch are sometimes distributed and free cups of soybeans and juices are distributed throughout the day. Among other things, an organ and blood donation campaign is being held in which sometimes 500 people donate blood successfully, after tests and checks by doctors.

 

2021 26 May Wednesday Wesak Day National
2022 15 May Sunday Wesak Day National
  16 May Monday Wesak Day Holiday National except: Johor, Kedah, Kelantan & Terengganu
2023 04 May Thursday Wesak Day National
2024 20 May Wednesday Wesak Day National


 

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Ben van Wijnen

 

 

 

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