Category: Buddhist holidays
Buddhas Birthday (Chinese: 佛誕; Hindi: बुद्ध जयन्ती; Vietnamese: Phật Đản) the birthday of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, is a holiday traditionally celebrated in Mahayana 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.
According to this legend, briefly after the birth of young prince Gautama, an astrologer named Asita visited the young prince's father — King Śuddhodana — and prophesied that Siddhartha would either become a great king or renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside the palace walls.
Śuddhodana was determined to see his son become a king, so he prevented him from leaving the palace grounds. But at age 29, despite his father's efforts, Gautama ventured beyond the palace several times. In a series of encounters — known in Buddhist literature as the four sights — he learned of the suffering of ordinary people, encountering an old man, a sick man, a corpse and, finally, an ascetic holy man, apparently content and at peace with the world. These experiences prompted Gautama to abandon royal life and take up a spiritual quest.
The exact date of Buddha's Birthday is based on the Asian lunisolar calendars and is primarily celebrated in Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar and the 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 Hindu calendar. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on a full moon Uposatha day, typically in the 5th or 6th lunar month. In China and Korea, it is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The date varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years it may be celebrated in June.
In Nepal and neighboring South-east Asian countries, Buddha's birthday is celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar and the Hindu calendar, which usually falls in April or May month of the Western Gregorian calendar. The festival is known as Buddha Purnima, as Purnima means full moon day in Sanskrit. It is also called is Buddha Jayanti, with Jayanti meaning birthday in Nepali and Hindi.
In many east Asian countries Buddha's Birth is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, and the day is an official holiday in Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea. The date falls from the end of April to the end of May in the Gregorian calendar.
As a result of the Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar in lieu of the Chinese lunar calendar in 1873. Therefore, in most Japanese temples, Buddha's birth is celebrated on the Gregorian calendar date April 8; only a few celebrate it on the orthodox Chinese calendar date of the eighth day of the fourth lunisolar month.
In 1999 the Taiwanese government set Buddha's birthday as the second Sunday of May, the same date as Mother's Day.
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