May is a time of reflection and commemoration for Buddhists worldwide, as it is widely celebrated as the month in which the baby Buddha was born, some 2500 years ago.
According to Buddhist legend, a child was born in a grove of blossoming trees. The child stood up, took seven steps and declared that “I alone am the World Honoured One”
He then pointed one hand to the sky, and one to the ground, to indicate that he would unify both heaven and the earth. This child would grow up to become Buddha, and the founder of one of the world’s largest religions.
While there are no records for the specific date of birth, Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated in most Asian countries on the eighth day of the fourth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, which this year, falls on the 17th of May.
The most notable exception to this rule is Japan, where Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated on the 8th of April each year.
The consumption of vegetarian food is usually observed on this day, while other traditions include temple offerings and lantern hangings. One of the most widely practiced traditions of this day is the bathing of the baby Buddha. This ritual honours the moment in which Buddha was first born.
A figure of the baby Buddha is positioned in an altar, and people can approach the altar and fill a ladle with water or tea, pouring it over the figure to bathe the baby.
Brisbane officially celebrated Buddhas birthday on the 3rd – 5th of this month, with a festival in the Southbank Parklands.
Celebrations at the festival included dragon boat races, Buddha bathing and multicultural performances.This year marked the seventeenth time the celebration has taken place at Southbank.