Vesak Day

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
-Buddha

Buddhists release paper lanterns near Borobudur temple during Vesak Day celebrations in Magelang

Vesak Day is one of the holiest holiday observed and celebrated by Buddhists around the world. Informally known as “Buddha’s Birthday”, Vesak Day actually celebrates the birth, enlightenment and achievement of nirvana, and death of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, more commonly known as the Buddha.

Dates of Vesak day vary by country depending on the lunar calendar used in different cultures. In China, Japan, and Korea, Vesak day is traditionally celebrated on April 8, while other cultures celebrate in May or June. Commemorations range from quiet meditation and prayers which in include offerings of candles and flowers to colorful processions and the releasing of lanterns into the air.

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In Indonesia, Vesak is observed during the full moon in May or June. This year, Vesak Day will be observed on May 15 in Indonesia. The ceremony centers around three Buddhist temples (Mendut, Pawon, and Borobudur). These three temples are located in a straight line. Pilgrims walk from Mendut to Pawon and on to Borobudur during a mass ceremony to celebrate the stages of life of Gautama Buddha. Once the pilgrims reach the Borobudur temple, they light candles and release lanterns into the air.

Buddhists practice meditation during Vesak and as a part of the path toward Enlightenment and Nirvana, but Buddhist meditation techniques have become increasingly popular with many non-Buddhists across the world. Meditation encompasses a variety of techniques that aim to develop mindfulness, concentration, tranquility, and insight. It is a great way to take a break from our daily activity and quiet our mind and our thoughts. While practicing meditation, one focuses on breathing, letting go of worries, stress and anxiety. They instead concentrate on the present.

Want to incorporate meditation into your everyday life but don’t know how? Greatist offers a list of 10 Unexpected Ways to Meditate Everyday. If you want to stick to a more traditional Meditation, try incorporating spiritual mantras into your practice. Mantras give your brain something to do, and they are meant to transform the person. This does not mean that you should babble during meditation and say that is your mantra. By saying “I am a millionaire” over and over, you will not transform yourself into a millionaire (sorry to disappoint). Test out one of these 10 tried and true mantras in your daily practice.