We all know the Buddha to be a symbol of cultivating inner peace and faith, but why do we celebrate his birthday?
What are some traditions of the Buddha’s birthday?
Celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th month in the lunar calendar, the main tradition is to visit the Po Lin Monastery in Lantau Island, which houses the big bronze statue of the Buddha. As Buddhism spread from India many years ago, many people believe in the Buddhist traditions. The holiday is meant to celebrate the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. The holiday is common in different countries across Asia such as Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. Traditions vary based on country and each country has its own spin on the holiday, but common traditions include bringing flowers, candles, lanterns to the monastery and spreading kindness and doing good deeds.
Celebrations vary based on the country, but most people celebrate at traditional Buddhist temples. There, people light incense and bring food offerings to the monks. Lanterns and candles symbolize the Buddha’s enlightenment. It is considered a public holiday in Hong Kong, but not necessarily in other countries such as the United States and Japan.
Where in Hong Kong can you go to celebrate?
In Hong Kong, Buddhist temples and monasteries bustle with activity. Walk by any one in particular and you’ll see lanterns lit to symbolize the enlightenment of the Buddha and decorated altars with offerings and incense. Some major events in Hong Kong take place at the Po Lin Monastery in Lantau Island, where the Tian TIan Big Buddha sits. This is where the most well known Buddha Bathing Ceremony takes place, a ritual where people pour water over a statue of the Buddha to show respect for his teachings. The Chi Lin Nunnery, in the Diamond Hill District, and the Ten Thousand Buddha Monastery also host the same Buddha Bathing Ceremonies and Celebrations. Other ways to celebrate include eating vegetarian, and some of these venues even serve complimentary vegetarian cuisine on a first come first served basis.
By: Vivian Fong
Vivian is currently a university student in her last year studying holistic health and wellness. Besides her passions in yoga, nutrition and all things health and wellness related, she loves social media, blogging and writing because of the creativity, inspiration and connection it brings.