Lonely Planet Writer

See people around the world celebrate the life of Buddha

To celebrate the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, people around the world are celebrating the stages of his life with an annual holiday.

Buddhists celebrate Vesak Day – also known as Buddha’s Purnima or commonly referred to as Buddha’s birthday – during the full moon in May or June. The holiday celebrates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment to Nirvana, and his death, or Parinirvana, which is believed to have happened in the 5th century BC. There can be some variation on the exact day of the celebrations, which are held around Asia in countries like India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and more.

Buddhist monks receive religious alms from Buddhist followers as they walk around the streets during Pindapata procession on 10 May in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Buddhist monks receive religious alms from Buddhist followers as they walk around the streets during Pindapata procession on 10 May in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Image by Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images
Buddhist monks take part in Buddha's birthday prayers at Boudha Stupa in Nepal.
Buddhist monks take part in Buddha’s birthday prayers at Boudha Stupa in Nepal. Image by Tom Van Cakenberghe/Getty Images
A Buddhist monk woman walks around the streets to receive religious alms from Buddhist followers during Pindapata procession on 10 May in Magelang.
A Buddhist monk woman walks around the streets to receive religious alms from Buddhist followers during Pindapata procession on 10 May in Magelang. Image by Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images
Buddhists join the holy water purification ceremony to welcome the Holy Vesak Triumph celebration at Mendut Temple, Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia.
Buddhists join the holy water purification ceremony to welcome the Holy Vesak Triumph celebration at Mendut Temple, Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. Image by Nugroho Hadi Santoso/NurPhoto via Getty Images
A young Buddhist monk takes part in Buddha's birthday prayers at Boudha Stupa on 10 May in Kathmandu, Nepal.
A young Buddhist monk takes part in Buddha’s birthday prayers at Boudha Stupa on 10 May in Kathmandu, Nepal. Image by Tom Van Cakenberghe/Getty Images
A man carries prayer flags up Boudha Stupa during Buddha's birthday prayers on 10 May in Kathmandu, Nepal.
A man carries prayer flags up Boudha Stupa during Buddha’s birthday prayers on 10 May in Kathmandu, Nepal. Image by Tom Van Cakenberghe/Getty Images