This year, Vesak Day is May 15 – in case you’re not quite sure why you’re getting another public holiday in Singapore! Here are some facts and figures about this important Buddhist holiday.
#1 The day of Vesak is the most important day of the Buddhist calendar
Vesak Day celebrates three major events in the life of the Buddha: his birth, his enlightenment (nirvana) And the dead (parinirvana). The day is honored with temple visits, vegetarian meals and various offerings. Depending on the calendar you follow and your location, the date varies each year. In 2022, Vesak Day falls on May 6 in Singapore; it is the only Buddhist celebration among the public holidays.
#2 There are different branches of Buddhism
Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana are the three main branches of the religion. Theravada Buddhism is said to be closest to the original Indian form of Buddhism; it is practiced in countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma. In Singapore, Mahayana is the most practiced by Chinese Buddhists, followed by Theravada, practiced by the Burmese and also the Sri Lankan community.
#3 Practices and rituals may vary
Depending on the branch they follow, devotees celebrate the day of Vesak in slightly different ways. Mahayana Buddhists practice the “three steps, one bow” ritual, bowing or prostrating every three steps as they walk the perimeter of the temple. Theravada Buddhist celebrations include the cooking of a rice pudding with milk to symbolize Buddha’s last meal before his fasting period to attain Enlightenment.
Many Buddhists here organize blood donations in hospitals, visit the elderly, and also distribute gifts to the needy.
#4 Vesak Day Wasn’t Always a Public Holiday
The day was not officially discontinued in the work calendar until 1955. This followed petitions from the Buddhist Association of Singapore after World War II.
#5 You don’t have to be a Buddhist to participate in the celebrations
Celebrate this important day by traveling to Phor Kark See Temple and witness a candlelit procession through the city as devotees pray for peace and blessings. Another interesting place to try is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum; Located in Chinatown, the temple is perfect to visit after sampling delicious local dishes at the adjoining Chinatown Food Center.
Haven’t decided what you’ll be doing for the weekend? Take a look at our Things to Do section!
Receive the latest events, stories and special offers
sent to your inbox.
By signing up, you will receive our weekly newsletters and offers, which you can unsubscribe from at any time.