Vesak Day

Vesak Day Quick Facts - NZ

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2024 Date23 May 2024

Vesak Day

Vesak Day in

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Vesak Day History

Vesak Day, also known as Buddha Purnima or Buddha Day, honors the birth, enlightenment, and passing away (Parinirvana) of Gautama Buddha – the founder of Buddhism. It is considered the most essential event for Buddhists worldwide and encourages individuals to reiterate their commitment to Buddhist teachings and values. The Observance traditionally involves acts of goodwill, kindness, and sharing, combined with prayer, meditation, and listening to sermons.

The celebration of Vesak Day traces back to the first Buddhist Council held approximately three months following Buddha's death. In New Zealand, it carries particular meaning for the thriving community of Buddhists, representing various traditions including Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. The Observance not only provides an opportunity to reflect on the essence of Buddhism but also serves to promote harmony, peace, and cultural understanding among the diverse population of New Zealand.

In New Zealand, Vesak Day is typically celebrated with a wide range of activities, including exhibitions, carnivals, cultural performances, and vegetarian food fairs. These activities promote Buddha's messages of love, peace, and non-violence. Devotees can also be seen visiting temples to offer prayers, meditate, and donate to local charities. Although the specific date of Vesak Day varies based on the lunisolar Buddhist calendar, it generally falls in April or May. In some years in New Zealand, it may coincide with the full moon day, which is traditionally considered sacred by Buddha's followers.

Facts about Vesak Day

  • About 535 million people around the world practice Buddhism.
  • According to the World Population Review, as of 2022, the countries with the highest proportion of Buddhist followers are:
    1) Cambodia
    2) Thailand
    3) Myanmar
    4) Bhutan
    5) Sri Lanka
  • On Vesak Day in New Zealand, community service is emphasized, in line with Buddhist teachings. This might involve volunteering at local organizations, fundraising for charities, or participating in events that promote peace and understanding.
  • It is also common during Vesak to "Bath the Buddha", a ritual where water is poured over a statue of the baby Buddha, symbolising the purification of one's mind from greed, hate, and ignorance.

Top things to do in NZ for Vesak Day

  • Practice mindfulness. The Buddha taught that the way to end suffering is by eliminating desire. Be mindful and aware of your thoughts and actions. Try to understand why you do the things that you do.
  • Explore several Buddhist Heritage Sites. UNESCO has partnered with the Korea International Cooperation Agency to develop a project that promotes Buddhist heritage sites.
  • Watch a Documentary to learn more about Vesak Day:
    1) Samsara (2011) – A non-narrative documentary that visually explores the themes of birth, death, and rebirth in various cultures.
    2) Baraka (1992) – A visually stunning documentary capturing different aspects of life and spirituality in 24 countries.
  • Visit the Christchurch Dhamma Gavesi Meditation Centre: A day of recreational activities, including meditation, Dhamma talks, and cultural performances.

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