May 13, 2011 at 12:13 a.m.
On the first full moon in May, which falls on Tuesday, Buddha Day is celebrated around the world. Buddha Day, often referred to as Vesak, is one of the most important observances in the Buddhist calendar, encompassing the teachings, birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddhism founder Siddhartha Gautama, c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE. Vesak is informally referred to as Buddha's birthday.
"I celebrate Buddha Day every year. I'll be vegetarian the whole day from 12 p.m. the night before until 12 p.m. the next day," Buddhist Victoria resident Roger White, 35, said. "I will pray and read the mantra for completion. It's the biggest day of the Buddhist holidays."
In some Buddhist traditions, observers of Vesak will bathe the Buddha statue with fragrant herbs and spices and pray for purification of greed, hatred and anger. Prayers for peace and harmony may also be offered.
White explained that in Buddhism, there are nine spiritual stages of meditation to climb before obtaining complete balance.
"Once you reach the ninth level, you are perfect," White said. "Nothing distracts you anymore; you are like Buddha."
White said when he lived closer to a Buddhist temple in California, he would spend Buddha Day at the temple. But, as Victoria is absent of a temple, he will spend the holiday mediating at home.
Depending on the Buddhist tradition, Buddha Day may be observed on different days.