Buddha's birthday

Buddha's birthday is celebrated every year across Asia and involves lighting incense, taking food offerings to monks and the bathing of the Buddha.

Happy birthday!

The birthday of Buddha is decorously and piously observed across much of south east Asia and the Far East.

Trouble is, the actual birthdate of the enlightened one is a matter of some conjecture.

Buddha’s designated birthday varies by a matter of days, depending which country you are in; it’s different in South Korea from Sri Lanka, and different again in Nepal and India, and so on.

For the sake of argument, if you’re taking Saga’s Grand Tour of China in 2018, then in China Buddha’s birthday will be celebrated on May 21. Or May 22. One or the other.

Vesak Day

Look out for Vesak – or Wesak – Day, which is the pinnacle of all Buddhist festivals, as the focal point of Buddha’s birthday celebrations.

Vesak is also a public holiday across much of south east Asia.

Many Buddhists also believe this day signals the time of Buddha’s enlightenment and death. Got that? Don’t worry: we won’t be testing you later.