The meaning of Vesak Day

Vesak Day commemorates the birth, enlightenment and final nirvana of Buddha

It begins early in the morning with a visit to the temple where other devotees may join in the communal observance of this special day.

Along with chants and recitation, devotees express gratitude and veneration to Buddha

It’s not uncommon for devotees to also offer gifts of candles, incense and fruits at shrines at this time

While light symbolises the brightness of wisdom, which drives away the darkness of ignorance

Water symbolizes purity, clarity and calmness

The fragrant incense symbolizes the purifying effect of wholesome living

While fruits symbolize the ultimate fruit of Enlightenment, which all Buddhists hope to attain

Other common rituals you’ll see include the bathing of a Buddha statue – a reminder to purify minds from greed & hatred, sharing a vegetarian meal as well as listening to teachings by monks.


Vesak Day in Singapore is a holy day celebrated by Buddhists. 

It’s usually in the month of May, on the 15th day of the fourth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

It’s the most significant day of the Buddhist calendar commemorating the birth, life and death of Buddha.

During this time, Buddhist temples are donned with flags and flowers as devotees congregate to chant sutras and sing hymns.

Releasing caged birds and animals like turtles and rabbits is also a common practice on Vesak Day.

It’s like an act of kindness mimicking the compassion of Buddha.

But… in recent years, fewer animals are released as more people become aware of how such a practice will cause the animals and the environment more harm than good


If you live or work in Bishan, near the Kong Meng San Temple, devotees lining up in a procession before sunrise on Vesak Day and taking steps on both knees and bowing at every third step must be a familiar sight to you

Devout Buddhists usually take slightly over two hours to walk the whole perimeter of Singapore’s largest Buddhist temple on their knees

With high hopes of attaining Enlightenment at the back of their heads, they take these steps of faith not only to strengthen their belief in Buddha, but also to pray for world peace, personal blessings and repentance.

Now if you’d like to join in the procession but Bishan is a little out of the way for you

Just head to a temple closest to you.

Most Buddhist temples in Singapore would have this Three Step One Bow event for devotees on Vesak Day.

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Lynette Tan is Mrs Singapore Universe 2016. She believes in being beautiful and healthy, naturally. Her mantra? You're most beautiful, when you're You!

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