If you are Buddhists outside Asia you may be missing out on the best festivals. Here’s a list of the Many different festivals are celebrated by the Buddhists throughout the year.
The Buddhist New Year is celebrated from April when the first new moon is spotted. This festival is celebrated in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao and Sri Lanka for three whole days.
Many traditions and customs are displayed by the Buddhists during the time. The New Year is celebrated with a great deal of pomp and splendor. Each day is given a special name and holds certain significance.
The birth of Buddha is celebrated at this festival. The enlightenment as well as the death of Buddha is celebrated in May when the first full moon is seen. They remember the important events that corresponded with his three watches during one night. This is a modest and tame festival in comparison to many other festivals. Devotees attend the temples with offerings of flowers, incense and other gifts.
Magha Puja Day
The festival is celebrated in March, on the first full moon day of this lunar month. The day commemorates the fourfold assembly which was a memorable event in Buddha’s life and considered a holy day.It was on this day that Lord Buddha taught his disciples the Fundamental Teachings or “Ovadha Patimokkha”.There were four events that were important during the lifetime of Buddha and these are remembered on this day.Nearly 1,250 Buddhist monks travel to Veluwant Temple which is in Rajgah City of Magaha State from various regions on the Full Moon day.These enlightened monks (Arahants) do not have to make any appointment as they had attained the Six Higher Knowledge’s (Apinyas.) Lord Buddha had ordained each of them (Ehi Bhikkhu).
Uposatha and Kathina Ceremony
Four holy days every month are observed by Buddhists. They fast on these days which fall on new moon, full moon and quarter moon days. Buddhists believe that during this fasting, they will clean their mind from defilement and the inner joy and peace will take place as a result. The Buddhist monks receive new robes during this ceremony. Four week after the Vassa’s end, the laypeople give cloth for different necessities, including robes to the sangha from the monasteries. This festival is a part of so called Theravada Buddhism.
The Songkran festival is spread for many days and occurs mid-April and is popular in Thailand, particularly the North of Thailand. The festival lasts up to 6 days. People spring clean their homes and wash clothes to being a cleansing ritual for the festival. They also sprinkle water that is perfumed on monks. Locals will walk along streets with a mixture of talc and water and randomly bless people with the substance. This is also commonly known as The Lantern Festival in Thailand. The Lantern Festival lasts an entire day, where there are prayers and chanting, culminating in a mass release of paper lanterns. The lanterns represent releasing yourself of worries and saying goodbye to the previous year.
In the Twelfth month of the lunar calendar, the Loy Krathong festival is celebrated. This usually happens in October time. During the night of the full moon, candles, incense sticks and flowers that are placed in bowls that are prepared with leaves are allowed to float in water. People believe that this dispels the bad luck from their lives.
The Ploughing Festival
When it is half-moon in May, people celebrate this festival. A plough painted in gold is pulled by a couple of white oxen. Four girls also dressed in white follow throwing rice seeds from their baskets. Buddha was only seven years old when he experienced his first enlightenment. This happened when he accompanied his father when he went to plough.