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Day of Vesak

Millions of Buddhists celebrate Vesak Day, an officially recognized United Nations (UN) holiday that celebrates the birth of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.

Vesak Day celebrates Buddha's birthday.

©iStockphoto.com/marcomayer

Celebrate Vesak Day

The UN celebrates Vesak Day (or the Day of Vesak) with Buddhist organizations and communities worldwide. Celebrations include:

  • Cultural performances featuring song and dance.
  • Plays about Buddha’s life and teachings.
  • Public messages given by religious and community leaders.

Temples are adorned with decorations and flowers on Vesak Day. Some community groups organize acts of charity, like releasing caged animals or donating food and gifts to the poor.

Public Life

Vesak Day is a global observance, as well as a public holiday in some countries, such as India.

About Vesak Day

Siddhartha Gautama, also commonly known as Buddha (enlightened one), lived in present-day India and Nepal between the sixth and fourth century BCE. His teachings focused on messages about compassion, peace and goodwill. Millions around the world follow the teachings of the Buddha today. The Day of Vesak commemorates Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death.

In 1999, the UN recognized internationally Vesak Day to acknowledge the contribution that Buddhism, one of the oldest religions in the world, has made for over 2500 years. This day is commemorated annually at the UN Headquarters and other UN offices and missions.

Vesak Day Observances

Holiday currently only shown for years 2015–2019.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015MonJun 1Vesak DayUnited Nations observance
2016FriMay 20Vesak DayUnited Nations observance
2017WedMay 10Vesak DayUnited Nations observance
2018TueMay 29Vesak DayUnited Nations observance
2019SunMay 19Vesak DayUnited Nations observance

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