Major Buddhist Feasts
Buddhist festivals are events full ofkindness and joy. Annually Buddhists around the world celebrate many festivals and organize festivals, most of which are related to important events from the life of the Buddha or various bodhisattvas. Dates of holidays are established according to the lunar calendar and may not coincide in different countries and traditions. As a rule, on the festival day, laymen go to the local Buddhist temple to bring food and other items to the monks in the early morning and listen to instructions in morality. Daytime can be dedicated to helping the poor, walking around the temple or stupa as a sign of veneration of the Three Jewels, recitation of mantras and meditation. The most important Buddhist holidays are briefly described below.
Buddhist New Year
In different parts of the world this holiday hasfor different dates. In the Theravada countries (Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Laos) New Year is celebrated on the full moon day of April and is celebrated for three days. In the tradition of Mahayana, the New Year usually starts on the first full moon of January, and most of the Tibetan Buddhists celebrate it in March. In the countries of South Asia on this day it is customary to pour water on each other.
Holidays in the Theravada Tradition - Vesak (Buddha's Day)
Some Buddhist holidays have a specialsignificance and are held with great scope, for example, Vesak - Buddha's Day. On the full moon of May, Buddhists around the world celebrate the birthday, enlightenment and care of the Buddha (except for a leap year, when the holiday falls at the beginning of June). The word "Vesak" is used according to the name of the month according to the Indian calendar.
Magha Puja (Sangha Day)
Magha puja is celebrated on the full moon of the thirdlunar month and can occur in February or March. This sacred day serves as a reminder of an important event from the life of the Buddha, which occurred in the early period of his life as a teacher. After the first shutter during the rainy season, the Buddha went to the city of Rajagaha. Here, without prior agreement, after the wanderings, 1,250 arhats (enlightened disciples) returned to pay homage to the teacher. They gathered in the monastery of Veruvan, together with the two senior disciples of the Buddha - the venerable Sariputra and Moggalana.
Buddhist holidays in the tradition of Mahayana - Ulamban (Ancestors Day)
The Mahayana followers celebrate this holiday withbeginning of the eighth lunar month on his fifteenth lunar day. It is believed that the gates of Hell open on the first day of this month and spirits can move to the human world for two weeks. Food offerings made during this period can alleviate the suffering of ghosts. On the fifteenth day, Ulambana, people visit the cemeteries to make an offering to the deceased ancestors. Some Theravadins from Cambodia, Laos and Thailand also celebrate this annual event. Japanese Buddhists have a similar holiday called Obon, begins July 13, lasts 3 days and is dedicated to the birth of the departed ancestors of the family in the new bodies.
Birthday of Avalokiteshvara
This holiday is dedicated to the ideal of a bodhisattva,embodied by Avalokiteshvara, who represents perfect compassion in the Mahayana tradition of Tibet and China. The holiday falls on the full moon of March.
Bodhi Day (Day of Enlightenment)
On this day it is customary to honor enlightenmentSiddharthi Gautama, who became a Buddha. As a rule, Buddhists celebrate this important feast on the eighth of December, reciting mantras, sutras, meditating and listening to the teaching.
There are other Buddhist festivals, having different scales and their unique specifics. They can take place both annually, and have a more frequent periodicity.