Vesak Day, commonly known as ‘Buddha’s Birthday’, is one of the most important religious festivals in Viet Nam. The day commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha.
Vesak Day, which falls on the 15th day of the 4th month of the lunar calendar and therefore on 21 May this year, is celebrated throughout the country by Buddhists through various activities and events.
Followers gather in front of pagodas to observe and listen to the Religious Rites Vesak message, as well as to the speech given by the head monk of the pagoda. Afterwards they offer free food and gifts to the children and the needy.
When night falls, the atmosphere of the festival becomes more exciting with parades along main streets. Animals are set free, and flower garlands and coloured lanterns are floated on rivers in order to help the wandering souls of people who have drowned.
Water plays an important part in the festival as images of the Buddha are bathed to signify spiritual purity. During this cleansing ritual, which involves bowing and offering a prayer, a ladle is filled with water and poured over the Buddha statue. The meaning of the rite is purification of your own soul.