Find out about Wesak Day in Malaysia and celebrate this important occasion.
Wesak Day (also known as Buddha Day) is celebrated by Buddhists from around the world (Malaysia being one of them) as a festival to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha.
The Buddhist religion was started by Siddharta Gautama in 500 B.C. He began searching for the meaning of life when he realised that everyone went through the same thing: illness, old age and death. He left his home and family in Nepal in search of the truth (despite being a prince).
Through his journey in search for the answer, he started to fast. In his mind, by putting himself through this suffering, he will be enlightened about life and death. However, fasting did not seem to help him get closer to any answer until a young woman brought him food one day. Gautama realised that neither his suffering through fasting nor self-indulgence through the food that he ate will help him find the meaning of life. This realisation is known as the enlightenment (and Gautama became known as Buddha or the Enlightened One).
The decision to agree to celebrate Wesak Day as Buddha’s birthday was formalised in 1950 in honour of the Buddha.
The actual date of this holiday differs every year according to the full-moon of the month of Vesakha (usually between April to June). As there is no one fixed date that is observed by all countries, it generally depends on the respective governments of the country.
For example, in the case when the month of May has 2 full-moon days, Malaysia tend to celebrate Wesak Day on the first full-moon day as in May 2007 (the same as Thailand). Despite being a predominantly Muslim country, Wesak Day is recognised as a public holiday in Malaysia (including Kelantan and Terengganu). For this day, only one public holiday is given.
On this day, you will see the celebration begins at dawn. Buddhists from all over Malaysia will head to their respective temples to pray. Devotees will also take this opportunity to assist the needy through donations such as food. At the same time, offerings of incense and joss sticks, and prayers are carried out in unison with the months at the respective temples. This day will eventually lead to a candle procession which is the highlight of Wesak Day.
Location: No.24, Jalan Pantai 9/7, Seksyen 10, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
The infrastructure of this temple is inspired by Thai architecture and design. The structure is decorated with multi-coloured glass tiles and gilded with gold leaves, making it one of the most stunning Thai temple architectures in the Klang Valley. For devotees of Thai buddhism, major celebration such as Songkran (traditional New Year) is also celebrated here.
Location: Jalan Tujuh, Sentul Selatan, 51000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur
This temple offers a wide range of Buddhist religious activities, besides providing assistance to the less fortunate and elderly people through its affiliation with Sri Jayanti Welfare Organisation, a non-profit organisation in Kuala Lumpur.
Location: 7156, Tingkat Mak Mandin 3, Mak Mandin, 13400 Butterworth, Pulau Pinang
The Butterworh Buddhist Association is all about giving back to the community, besides offering Buddhist religious activities. Welfare, education and recreational activities are some of the things done on a regular basis. Occasionally, you will also see this association organising blood donation drive to help improve the supply of the country’s blood bank.
Location: Jalan Sungai Lembing, Wan Fo Tien Temple, Bandar Indera Mahkota, 25200 Kuantan, Pahang
Located on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the majestic Wan Fo Tien temple is very popular among local and non-local devotees. Also known as the Ten Thousand Buddha’s Hall, it has a beautiful lake garden surrounded by a limestone hill. The highlight of this place is the 5.5 metre high Buddha statue that is made entirely from white jade.
Location: No.2222, Jalan Uplands, Simpang Tiga, 93200 Kuching, Sarawak
Started off from a humble origin, the temple managed to expand to become of the most popular places in Malaysia for the Wesak Day celebration. Occassionally, the temple offers free vegetarian lunch to the public (during the Maha Sanghika Dana event – practicing generosity on the field of merits to benefit their parents).