Over 50% of Vietnam’s population is Buddhist in some form. Therefore, it’s no surprise that this significant religious day would be one of the biggest celebrations for many Vietnamese people. Being in Hoi An during this time will truly be an experience to learn more about Vietnam’s culture.
What is Buddha’s Birthday?
This festival commemorates Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. The holiday is also known as Phật Đản in Vietnamese.
Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated to acknowledge the birth of Prince Siddhartha Guatama. He is worshipped as the founder of Buddhism, one of the largest religions in the world. The exact date of Buddha’s birthday is based on Asian lunisolar calendars and the year he was born into the royal family of the Sakya people is unclear with estimates ranging from 563 to 480 BC in Nepal. More significant is that at his birth, it was predicted that he would one day become an enlightened teacher.
When is Buddha’s Birthday?
Buddha’s birthday is celebrated on the 15th day of the 4th lunar month. Typically this falls in April or May in the Gregorian calendar. In 2020, Buddha’s birthday was on April 30th.
How is Buddha’s Birthday Celebrated?
All around the country in temples and pagodas, devout Buddhist Vietnamese eagerly celebrate this day. Monks lead calls of prayer and present speeches while observers typically meditate on their own lives. Incense is burned and gifts are presented as offerings at the foot of shrines.
Specifically in Hoi An, offerings are traditionally made at Phap Bao Pagoda, but all temples are decorated. If you are in Hoi An or Vietnam during this occasion, you will undoubtedly smell incense and observe more monks in public processions. Then at night, a parade will start from Phap Bao Pagoda towards the old quarter. Once people arrive at the river, colored Lanterns and lotus flowers are placed in the river as offerings. Gifts are also typically be given to the poor and needy.