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The top 5 buddhist holidays you must celebrate someday

Updated on September 14, 2015

Are you planning your next vacation and want to learn about different cultures? If you are considering the eastern side of the world on your itinerary, this article is for you.

Buddhism is a nontheistic religion, originated in India in the V century BC, and it’s considered a philosophical and religious doctrine, settled from the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Buddhism is followed by more than five hundred million people all over the world. (Yes, 500 million, you read that right).

If you are willing to create a more spiritual connection with yourself, while visiting the most exotic places on earth, the Buddhist festivals are definitely something you must experience. We selected those that are considered most important for Buddhists around the world, having the highest number of attendees and the biggest celebrations. Believe it or not, many Buddhist holidays are determined by moon phase rather than date, so the dates change every year. So make sure you plan carefully!

Vesakha (Buddah Day)

Also known as the birthday of Buddah, is the most important festivity in Buddhism. It’s usually celebrated on the first full moon of May (May 21st, if you are planning on going next year!) and honor the birth, enlightenment and passing away (paranibbana) of Buddah.

On this day, families bring food, candles and flowers to the monks in the monasteries. In return, the monks recite the scriptures, lead a period of meditation and give lessons on the themes of the festival.

While in Singapore, head to Phor Kark See Temple on Bright Hill Road for a peek at one such procession.

In many countries, celebrations are taken out to the streets and become as big as the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Buddhist New Year

In Therevadin countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka and Burma, New Year is celebrated for three days from the first full moon of April (April 22nd on 2016). In Mahayana countries, like China, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Nepal, New Year starts on the first moon day in January (January 24th on 2016). Tibetans Buddhists New Year is called ‘Losar’ and starts on the first day of the first month of the Tibetan calendar, and lasts 3 to 15 days! (February 8th on 2016).

On New Year day, people go to the temples, bath Buddha sculptures, offer prayers and devotion to the Buddha, and pray to be conferred with happy and peaceful times ahead. They also have beautiful stage fights, dances, and firecracker shows.

Uposatha (Observance Days)

In most Therevadin countries, Uposatha is observed once a week, in accordance of the four lunar phases. In Mahayana countries, the Uposatha days are observed six times a month: on the 8th, 14th, 15th, 23rd and final two days of each lunar month.

The Buddha taught that the Uposatha day is for "the cleansing of the defiled mind," bringing in interior calm and joy, so these days are perfect for relaxing and meditating. Thankfully, the Asian continent is full of places that serve that purpose. During Uposatha days, in many monasteries physical labor is reduced.

Magha Puja (Makha Bucha)

Also known as the Full Moon of Tabodwe is a Holiday celebrated on the full moon of the third lunar month (2016: February 22nd). On this day, Buddha ordained 1,250 monks and spread the main beliefs of Buddhism. This marked a crucial event in the growth of the religion.

The Emerald Buddha temple and the Grand Palace are the two greatest places in Bangkok to enjoy the festivities. A candle-lit procession is taken out the streets and believers participate in it with great devotion

In Thailand, the sale of alcohol is forbidden on religious holidays. This means bars and clubs are closed for the whole holiday, so make sure you have your alcoholic beverages with you if you like to drink.

Asalha Puja (Dharma Day)

This holiday marks the day when the Buddha began teaching and frequently takes place in July, on the full moon of the eighth lunar month (July 19th on 2016).

Buddhist throughout the world visit their temples and practice Dharma. At the end of the evening, they attend Wien Thien ritual where they walk around the temple holding lit incense sticks and candles praying with the monks as they give sermons.

So here they are, the 5 biggest Buddhist celebrations you don’t want to miss. Make sure you contact your travel agent to plan a 2016 full of peace, harmony and fun. Feel free to leave a comment below, enjoy the rest of the site and have a safe flight!

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