Wesak Day falls in the month of May in Malaysia. It is the most important Buddhist festival commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and the passing of Gautama Buddha.
Prior to the celebration, many Buddhists eat a vegetarian meal to cleanse and purify themselves. Homes are cleaned and decorated. On Wesak Day, followers gather in temples before dawn. They meditate on the Five Precepts and reflect on the life and teachings of the Buddha. They remember his enlightenment and his revelations about the nature of death, karma, rebirth, suffering and desire. They pay homage to the Dhamma and the Sangha or community. Offerings such as incense, candles and flowers are made. Sutras are chanted in unison. Special lectures are given on the teachings of the Buddha and in some temple, a candle light procession highlights the day.
In the ‘bathing of the Buddha’ ceremony, water is poured over the shoulders of the statue of the Buddha, serving as a reminder to purify the heart and mind from greed and hatred. Doves are released as a gesture of compassion to all living beings.
Celebrating Wesak means making special efforts to bring happiness to the less fortunate. Buddhists distribute gifts to various charitable homes and hospitals. It is a time for great joy and happiness, expressed by focusing on useful activities such as fundraising for the poor and serving others. Devotees take the opportunity to strengthen their determination to lead noble lives, develop their minds and practice loving-kindness. They strive to spread peace and harmony to all humanity.