Tomorrow is Vesak Day, a holy day for my Buddhists friends in Singapore. It’s a public holiday and a long weekend for everyone here.
I want to wish my friend E who is overseas, A Happy Vesak Day. I wonder how she will commemorate the day with her family.
Vesak Day always coincides with the full moon. It is informally called Buddha’s birthday but it is actually celebrates the birth, enlightenment and entry into nirvana (peak of spiritual cultivation through mastery of the mind) of Buddha. Temples organize, acts of generosity known as dana like the releasing of caged birds and giving alms to the poor. Lotuses are offered at the temple and I usually associate Buddhism with this tranquil looking flower that seems to float in the water. It is significant that the lotus (enlightenment) emerges from the mud (materialism) through the water (progress of the soul). I like the teaching in Buddhism of focusing on true happiness as opposed to material wants.
Siddartha Gautama was born in Northern India (present day Nepal) at about 623B.C. Buddha means awakened one. Buddhism spread from India to South East Asia and East Asia. Today it is celebrated in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Vesak day is also the day my grandfather passed away. He was the grandfather I only saw in photographs, as he died when my mum was only 14 years old. The day still has a special feeling for me. Tomorrow will be 50 years since he left this earth, but he has left a strong impression behind for someone whom I have never had the chance to meet.