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The following article was published in our article directory on September 21, 2013.
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Buddhist Holidays

Article Category: Culture

Author Name: Sean Daniel

Buddhist Holidays
Although Buddhist holidays are not well-known throughout secular society like many Christian, Jewish and Islamic holidays, they are still celebrated in Buddhist societies. However, there are many traditions inside the Buddhist faith, and not all traditions celebrate the same holidays.

Vesak Puja
The most sacred day for Theravada Buddhists is Vesak Puja. It's the day that observes the birth, enlightenment and the death of the first Buddha. Other disciplines separate these three events and celebrate each on separate dates.

Vesak is a major day that is filled with rededicating oneself to the dharma and the path to enlightenment. On this day, nuns and monks will mediate and chant, and laypeople offer flowers and other offerings to the temples.

Secular celebration sometimes accompanies Vesak. These secular celebrations include parties, festivals and parades. Streets and temples may be decorated with lanterns.
There is also a ritual of washing the baby Buddha on this day. A figure depicting the baby Buddha, with his right hand gesturing toward the sky, and his left hand toward the ground, is placed on a pedestal. All types of people then can come to the alter and, with a ladle filled with water or tea, wash the baby Buddha by pouring the ladle over his head.

Hungry Ghost Festivals
Buddhists hold hungry ghost festivals to offer relief to those reborn as hungry ghosts. The hungry ghost realm is just one of the realms where beings can be reborn, and those born into that realm experience a constant craving that they can never satisfy. This is one of the Buddhist holidays that is celebrated on different days by different traditions.

The Tibetan New Year is called Losar. It's a three-day festival that incorporates secular and sacred traditions. There are ceremonies, prayers, dancing and many other festivities.

The date of Losar changes from year to year because Tibetans follow a lunar calendar. Tibetan Buddhist households will dray the eight auspicious symbols on their walls with a white powder. The monks in the monasteries will honour protector deities with rituals during the month before Losar.

The three-day festival includes:
• Lama Losar, Day One of Losar. On the first day, devout Buddhists will honour their dharma teachers. On home alters, many people offer sprouted barley seeds and other types of grain to secure a great harvest. High-ranking lamas will gather and make offerings to the dharmapalas, particularly Palden Lhamo, who protects Tibet.
• Gyalpo Losa, Day Two of Losar. The second day is the day for honouring leaders, both within the local community and at the national level. Historically, kings would distribute gifts at festivals on this day. Now, the Dalai Lama exchanges greetings with leader in the government.
• Choe-kyong Losar, The Final Day of Losar. The last day of Losar is celebrated by laypeople making offerings to dharma protectors by raising prayer flags from high places like rooftops, mountains and hills. They will also burn leaves of juniper and incense.

Chunga Choepa
Fifteen days after Losar, Chunga Choepa, the Butter Lamp Festival, is celebrated. The art of sculpting yak butter is considered sacred in Tibet. The monks who will engage in this art must perform rituals of purification beforehand.

Nirvana Day
Mahayana Buddhists celebrate the parinirvana of the historical Buddha. It's the observation of his death and attainment of nirvana. Most Mahayana Buddhists celebrate Nirvana Day on February 18.

Magha Puja
Magha Puja is also referred to as Sangha Day or Fourfold Assembly Day. Most Buddhist countries celebrate this day, and it always falls on the first full moon day of March. It's a commemoration of the day when 1250 monks all came together and assembled to pay the Buddha respect. The monks came together without any prior planning, which is part of what makes the day remarkable.

About the Author: Sean Daniel is an expert when it comes to Buddhist Holidays. To find out everything about Buddhist Holidays, visit his website at

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