Vesak or Visakha Puja
The most important day in the Buddhist calendar around the world, celebrates the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Gautam Buddha. Its significance lies in it being associated with the Buddha and His universal message of peace. Though festivals were celebrated since long around the time around which Vesak is celebrated today, yet, the formal decision to mark it as the Buddha Day was taken at the first Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (W.F.B.).
This conference was held at Sri Lanka in 1950 and the resolution adopted here read,"That this Conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, while recording its appreciation of the gracious act of His Majesty, the Maharaja of Nepal in making the full-moon day of Vesak a Public Holiday in Nepal, earnestly requests the Heads of Governments of all countries in which large or small number of Buddhists are to be found, to take steps to make the full-moon day in the month of May a Public Holiday in honour of the Buddha, who is universally acclaimed as one of the greatest benefactors of Humanity."
The Name Vesak - In India & Other Countries
The 2nd month in Hindu calendar is known as 'Vaisakha' and it is from here that Vesak draws its name. Vesak, itself, is a Sinhalese word for Pali 'Visakha'.Vesak is known by different names in different countries. In India, Bangladesh and Nepal, it is Visakah Puja or Buddha Purnima while in Thailand, it is called Visakha Bucha. Buddhist in Vietnam celebrate it as Phat Dan while those in Indonesia call it Waisak. Sri Lankan and Malaysian Buddhist term it as Vesak (Wesak) and Tibetan Buddhist as Saga Dawa. In Laos and Myanmar, the festival is known as Vixakha Bouxa and Ka-sone respectively.