Buddha Day is also known as Vesak Day, or Teacher’s Day. Buddhists celebrate today as the Buddha’s (Shakyamuni) Birthday. It is considered by most to be the most important day in Buddhism and most Buddhists spend the day in contemplation of the Buddha’s life and enlightenment. Celebrations outside the temples often involve ceremonial bird releases and some local traditions or culture into the festivities.
Celebrations at the temples often involve guest speakers as well as chanting and praying and offerings to the Buddha statue (usually vegetarian in line with Buddhist beliefs) in respect for his life and teachings.
There are various regional variations in the dates upon which Buddha Day is observed (varying in the Gregorian calendar between April and May) – for simplicity we have focused on the most commonly celebrated date in all east Asian countries (excluding Japan), which occurs on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar.