Hougang Stadium was ablaze with candlelight last night, as at least 1,000 people held lotus lamps in a Vesak Day procession. Prayers were made for world peace and national prosperity and lanterns symbolising harmony, peace and happiness were displayed.

Vesak is an annual holiday recognised by practicing Buddhists.The exact date of Vesak varies according to the various lunar calendars used in different traditions, but generally the full moon of the fourth lunar month is the date recognised. Sometimes informally called "Buddha's birthday," Vesak actually encompasses the birth and enlightenment of Buddha and his entry into Nirvana.

On Vesak Day, devout Buddhists and followers alike assemble in their various temples before dawn for the ceremonial, and honorable, hoisting of the Buddhist flag and the singing of hymns in praise of the holy triple gem: The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings), and The Sangha (his disciples).

Devotees may bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks to lay at the feet of their teacher. These symbolic offerings are a reminder that just as the beautiful flowers will wither away after a short while and the candles and joss-sticks will soon burn out, so too is life subject to decay and destruction.

Devotees come together to make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind. They are encouraged to partake of vegetarian food for the day.

In some countries, notably Sri Lanka, two days are set aside for the celebration of Vesak and all liquor shops and slaughter houses are closed during the two days. Birds, insects and animals are released by the thousands in what is known as a 'symbolic act to liberation'; of giving freedom to those who are in captivity, imprisoned, or tortured against their will. Some devout Buddhists will wear a simple white dress and spend the whole day in temples with renewed determination to observe the observance of the Eight Precepts.

Here is Singapore, Vesak Day is being celebrated with a carnival held at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum on South Bridge Road. From the 16-19th May, 2008 the temple will be colourfully decorated with Buddhist flags and lights, and shrines filled with flowers, fruits and other offerings. There will be delicious vegetarian food to sample and cultural performances on the Carnival Stage.

The theme of the Vesak Festival Chinatown 2008 is Vesak Vibes in Chinatown.

Grand festival archways at Elgin Bridge, Upper Cross Street and Hoe Chiang Road, mark the three zones of the Festival Light-up. Lantern lamp posts will come alive each night with vivacious phoenixes, dragons and lions, styled after BTRTM’s Tang Dynasty influenced architecture.

Vesak Charity Carnival : 16-19 May, 2008

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum

288 South Bridge Road

Singapore 058840

Tel: 6220 0220


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