Vesak day generally commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Lord Buddha. However, Vesak 2012, which falls on June 4, holds a special significance as it will also mark the 2,600th anniversary of Buddha’s Enlightenment.
On this occasion, the Sangha Supreme Council and the Office of National Buddhism of Thailand will hold celebrations across Thailand to commemorate the birth of the Buddhist religion under the theme of “Buddha Jayanti: 2,600 years of Buddhist Enlightenment”.
“Jayanti” is derived from the Sanskrit term “Jaya”, which means victory. This refers to the triumph of Prince Siddhartha over the Maras (demons) and Kleshas (temptations), which led to the birth of Buddha and the Buddhist religion. Nowadays, the term “Buddha Jayanti” has also been interpreted as the victory of the Buddhist religion and its followers as well.
The Buddha Jayanti celebration in Thailand was officially launched on the recent Magha Puja day, which fell on March 7. The celebrations, which were hosted by the Thai government, included activities to allow Buddhist followers to worship the Lord Buddha as well as dedicate the fruit of their merit-making to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the occasion of his 84th anniversary.
Major celebrations to mark the Buddha Jayanti will take place on the three most important days of the Buddhist religion: Magha Puja, Vesak and Asalha Puja. Academic seminars and other activities to promote Buddhist teachings, or Dharma, to families and community members will also be held at various venues, including the Phutthamonthon grounds, the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, Muangthong Thani, Siam Paragon and temples nationwide.
The Buddha Jayanti celebration flag consists of a green sacred bo leaf decorated with traditional kanok motifs, which encircles the Dharmachakra resting in the center of the Thai national flag. The flags will be distributed to people so they can be flown or hung in their homes; they will also serve as a token to remind them of the significance of this celebration.
Apart from rejoicing in the 2,600th anniversary of Buddha’s Enlightenment, the objective of the Buddha Jayanti celebrations is to remind Buddhist devotees to “do good deeds, avoid evil actions and purify the mind”, which is one of the core teachings of the Buddhist religion.