Saturday, 21 May 2016

Happy Vesak Day 卫塞节 2016

A time of peace, reflection and joy
Devotees here spend Vesak Day purifying themselves and serving others

For as long as she can remember, undergraduate Crystal Nanayakara, 24, would get up early on Vesak Day, head into her home’s prayer room for a prayer, and then help out in the kitchen, where her mother and helper would be preparing vegetarian dishes such as wambatu moju (eggplant pickle) and kaju maluwa (cashew nut curry).

When the food is ready, the family would don white clothing -- symbolising love and purity on this special day, she said -- before leaving for the Sri Lankaramaya Buddhist Temple at St Michael’s Road.

Nanayakara, a Singaporean Sinhalese, is one of several hundreds of thousands of Buddhists here (about a 3rd of Singaporeans aged 15 or over) who will be celebrating the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha on Vesak Day tomorrow (May 21).

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Vesak Day celebrations draw crowds to temple

To bursts of confetti and chanting of monks, a 4-storey-high silk depiction of Buddha was unveiled, with devotees eagerly craning their necks to behold it.

It was the annual highlight of Thekchen Choling (Singapore) temple's celebrations of Vesak Day yesterday, a Buddhist festival which commemorates Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death.

Each year, the 13m by 9m hand-sewn silk applique image of Buddha, known as a thangka, is unveiled before crowds at the Tibetan Buddhist temple in Jalan Besar.

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Vesak Day (卫塞节)

Vesak Day in Singapore is a holy day celebrated by Buddhists. It represents the birth, the Nirvana (enlightenment) and the Parinirvana (death) of Gautama Buddha and is the most significant day of the Buddhist calendar. Vesak Day usually falls in May, on the 15th day of the fourth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

On Vesak Day, temples are decorated with flags and flowers. Devoted Buddhists and many observers of the faith congregate at their temple before dawn, saffron-clad monks chant the sutras, the Buddhist flag is raised and the people sing hymns to celebrate the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings) and the Sangha (his disciples).

Worshippers bring offerings of flowers, candles and incense to lay at the feet of the statues. These offerings demonstrate that the believers accept that life, like the offerings, is subject to decay and destruction.

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VESAK, is the celebration of the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha, by Buddhists all over the world.

To capture the customary Buddhist practices conducted on this significant day, we headed down to Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, the largest Buddhist temple in Singapore, located along Sin Ming avenue.

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Buddha's Birthday
A statue of the child Gautama Buddha as depicted in his apocryphal story of birth

Buddha's Birthday (Fó Dàn Rì 佛诞日 {Simplified} 佛誕日 {Traditional} 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 (from Pali, meaning "three baskets"), Gautama was born in Lumbini in modern-day Nepal, around the year 563 BCE, and raised in Kapilavastu.

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 Nepal, which is considered the birth-country of Buddha, it is celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar.

In China, Hong Kong and Korea, it is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. In Nepal and neighboring South Asian and Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore), Buddha's birthday Vesak Day (韦塞节) is celebrated on the 15th day of 4th lunar month.

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