Why is Wesak So Nasty?
Wesak is an important festival in Buddhism. It is one of three major festivals in the Buddha’s teachings. This important Buddhist festival, also called Nangyekha, is commemorated annually on the complete moon of the new moon, usually in May, and on the full moon of a new moon, usually in August. Historically, his birth is believed to have occurred in 6AD, but the Buddhist calendar is reckoned from his death four years later. The full moon is the actual turning point of the year, marking the transition from the daytime to the darkness of winter.
The origin of Wesak is shrouded in mystery; however, it is thought to be a combination of two Sanskrit terms, “wesak” meaning “visit” and “kri,” meaning “moon.” According to legend, the Buddha was born when the moon was in its whole aspect, just as the sun was at its rising phase. He was welcomed into the household of Kriya, his mother’s brother, who blessed him with a healthy and well-mannered life.
The complete moon celebration is integral to the Buddhist holiday of Wesak. Some monks would always journey to the edge of the Himalayan Mountains, away from civilization, to celebrate the occasion. A small group would go to the edge of the Ganges, and there they would boil khatas (pottery made from rice), eat sweetmeats, and give away gifts. Others would hang a banner from the Ganges to warn away evil spirits, and they would cut a hole in the ground, stick a cow’s nose into the mud, scoop out a small pot of water, light incense and pray for the Buddha. Wesak itself starts on the first full moon after the Buddha’s birth and represents the spiritual journey to enlightenment.
Buddhism Significant Festivals
Buddhism celebrates several significant festivals throughout the year, but the most powerful of them all is the full moon day of Wesak. It is said that the Buddha was born on this day, around the time when the sun crossed the sky and the moon was in the sign of Virgo. According to the Buddhist texts, this would have been around the fifth century B.C… It is said that a fierce wind caused the wheel of the moon to turn and that the Buddha appeared from the hole in the ground to teach His disciples about the true nature of life.
For many years Wesak was considered a sacred holiday in the Hindu calendar. In India, according to dharma, it is a time to honor the Lord, who is the creator and sustainer of the universe. It is also a time to pay accolade to Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of wisdom, affection, compassion, and goodness.
In Indonesia, where Wesak is traditionally observed, an entire moon festival is called “Ruru Day.” The complete moon festivities are closely linked to Buddhism. During the festival, people wear orange robes and go to the anniversary temples. They give offerings and take part in rituals. Legend has it that the first king of Java, King Braces, instructed his ministers not to wear orange apparel or any attire with a lot of frills and decoration on the birthday of Ruru.
Celebrated as Vaishali
In India, Wesak is also celebrated as Varsali, the birthday of Lord Krishna. Vaishali was the twelfth day after the Hindu month of Shravan when Lord Krishna was born. Some northern Indian states celebrate Varsali as Yama-Durga, the festival of Lord Krishna’s pure awareness, or Yama Dwaj, the celebration of awareness that marks the end of Samhita (meditation) and Shravan (death).
In Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and the other Southeast Asian countries, Vaisakha is celebrated differently. While Vaisakha is not a traditional Buddhist festival, the meaning is complete enlightenment and the coming of the age of enlightenment. An entire moon ceremony is usually conducted on Vaisakha Day. Other names for Vaisakha include Hymn of the Norns (in Sanskrit), the Festival of the Mind (Sri Lanka), the Festival of St. Francis of Assissi (in Sanskrit), and the Festival of Sanghyad (in Rajasthan).