Vesak day or Waisak day is the greatest Buddhist festival annually. The Vesak day in Indonesia is also very special even the Buddhist population is very few today. There only 5% of Buddhist from the total population Indonesia 270 million people. Thousands of Buddhists from Indonesia and across the region will congregate at the magnificent Borobudur Temple in Central Java to take part in the series of rituals and ceremonies of Vesak which this year will take place by the end of May 2018. While, the pinnacle of the ceremony will occur during full moon on 29th May 2018. Also known as Buddha Purnima and Buddha Day, is a holiday traditionally observed by Buddhists on different days in some countries as “Buddha’s Birthday” as well as in other parts of the world. The festival commemorates the birth of Prince Siddharta in the Lumbini Gardens in 623 BC, enlightenment (Buddhahood) in which Prince Siddharta became the Buddha in Bodhgaya at the age of 35 in 588 BC, and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada or southern tradition at the age of 80 in 543 BC.
The decision to agree to celebrate Wesākha as the Buddha’s birthday was formalized at the first conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in 1950, although festivals at this time in the Buddhist world are a centuries-old tradition.
On Vesak, devout Buddhists and followers alike assemble in their various temples (Mendut and Pawon Temples) before dawn for the ceremonial and honorable hoisting of the Buddhist flag and the singing of hymns in praise of the holy triple gem: The Buddha, The Dharma (his teachings), and The Sangha (his disciples). Devotees may bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks to lay at the feet of their teacher. These symbolic offerings are to remind followers that just as the beautiful flowers would wither away after a short while and the candles and joss-sticks would soon burn out, so too is life subject to decay and destruction. Devotees are enjoined to make a special effort to refrain from killing of any kind. They are encouraged to partake of vegetarian food for the day.
Waisak Day in Indonesia has been celebrated as a national public holiday every year since 1983. Some travelers stay at Yogyakarta and some others stay at Borobudur area. This significant and traditional holy day is observed throughout Indonesia, where it is known as Waisak Day. At Borobudur, thousands of Buddhist monks will join together to repeat mantras and meditate as they circuit the temple in a ritual called “Pradaksina”. This is a form of tribute to the temple. Monks celebrate the special day by bottling holy water taken from the pristine springs at Jumprit in the Temanggung district (which symbolises humility) and transporting flames (which symbolize light and enlightenment) taken from the natural eternal flames at Mrapen in the village of Grobogan, in the Purwodadi district, from place to place. The ceremony will commence with prayers at the Mendut temple, then the crowds of pilgrims will walk together to the Borobodur temple carrying the flame of eternal fire, the holy water and Buddhist symbols that had been carefully guarded in the Mendut temple, to place these on the main altar which had been set up on the west side of the Borobudur temple. The pinnacle of the Vesak ritual will commence at the Vihara Githa. Devotees will then continue with pradaksina or the ritual of prayers circling three times around the Borobudur temple, moving clockwise from east to west. An integral part of the ritual is the lighting up of candles and chanting of the Ghata Visaka Puja by the congregation. Marking the pinnacle of Vesak’s series of rituals some 1,000 Puja lanterns will be released into the sky symbolizing enlightenment for the entire universe.