Vesak, commemorates the three most important milestones in the life of Gautama Buddha – His Birth, Enlightenment and Parinirvana (Nirvana after Death).
Festival of lights, Vesak is celebrated on the day of the full moon in the month of May. It is one of the biggest days of the year and is celebrated by Buddhists all over the world. Buddhists commemorate the important events that took place in the life of the Buddha on this day which also brings with it shifting seasons; namely, thundering south west monsoon rains and the calling of the seas in the east coast.
First comes the birth of Siddhartha Gauthama in Lumbini in Nepal. It is said that his mother Queen Mahamaya was travelling from Kapilavasthu (her husband’s kingdom) to her father’s kingdom to give birth to her first child, as was the tradition. On the way, her son prince Siddhartha Gauthama was born under a Sal tree in the garden of Lumbini.
The second event was Siddartha Gauthama’s supreme attainment as the Buddha, the Enlightened One. At the age of 29, he left his father’s palace in search of the truth, renouncing all worldly possessions and begging for alms in the streets. His search continued through the next few years, until at the age of 35, he attained Enlightenment seated under a Bodhi tree, in a place called Bodh Gaya in India.
The third event was Lord Buddha’s parinibbana over 2500 years ago at Kusinagar. The Buddha was 80 years, travelling with Ananda Thero preaching the Dhamma, but his health was steadily deteriorating. His parinirvana (Passing away) occurred in a peaceful grove of Sal trees in Kusinagar, surrounded by his disciple monks. It is said that the Sal trees, in spite of not being in season, bloomed and shed their pale yellow petals on him as he passed away into Nirvana.