Birth, enlightenment and death – the three most important events that stands testimony to Buddha’s life is celebrated on during the Wesak festival.
The Buddhists follow the lunar calendar, according to which the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha occurred on the same day. This makes Wesak one of the most important festivals of Buddhism.
Buddhism believes deeply in the concept of cleansing and liberation. Wesak is marked by rituals that symbolise these believes. The day usually falls in the month of May, depending on the lunar calendar.
On the day of Wesak, elaborate rituals are performed, but each of the rituals have a significant meaning connected to the teachings of Buddha.
On this day devotees give the idol of Buddha a holy bath. They pour perfumed water on the idol which symbolises purification of the mind and washing off of sins.
Visiting temples, offering flowers and lighting of candles and incense sticks are a must on this day. Each of the elements (flowers, candles and incense sticks) teach us that nothing lasts forever. It simply means that life too is temporary and one must do more of good.
Also, on this day food is distributed to the poor and needy. However it must be noted the food is given free of cost and is purely vegetarian.
As a part of the ceremonies many caged animals and birds are set free. It is a sign of liberation.
The people of Penang celebrate Wesak with a lot of zest and fervour. During the day Buddhists visit the temples and get involved in services such as providing free food to the needy and setting the captivated animals free.
In the evening they witness a 7 kilometre procession of glittering floats, traditional dance and music performances through the streets of George Town.
This was the significance of Wesak festival. Also read about Buddhism in Thailand.
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