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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Wesak

The Pāli name of a Buddhist festival held on the full moon of the month of Wesak (Sanskrit Vaiṣaka), which corresponds to April-May in the Western calendar. For some, but not all, Buddhists, it commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Lord BUDDHA, each, according to them, having occurred on the Wesak full moon. The festival lasts for 3 days, during which period there is a distribution of food and alms, decoration of houses with garlands and lanterns, and offerings of flowers to images of the Buddha. Caged birds are released in memory of the Buddha’s compassionate nature.

Charles W. LEADBEATER states in Talks on the Path of Occultism (vol. 2, p. 383) that the Lord Buddha appears at this time every year to pour spiritual force upon the world. He gives a detailed description of the festival in his book The Masters and the Path (pp. 265-276), although his account is not necessarily endorsed by all sects of Buddhism.

Recently there has been some agreement between the various Buddhist sects to celebrate the birth of the Buddha on the 15th day of their 4th month (Wesak), but Mahāyāna schools observe the Renunciation, Enlightenment and PARIṆIRVĀṆA on separate dates.

 

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