What Holidays do Buddhists Celebrate? 

photograph of obon lanterns on a lake at night

Lanterns float on a lake at a Obon celebration in Flordia. | PBC Parks and Recreation, Flickr https://tricy.cl/2RKBgjS

Like all major religions, Buddhism celebrates many holidays that are observed as a way of honoring important figures, moments, and themes in Buddhist tradition. These holidays can vary significantly in different cultures.  

The annual calendar within Buddhist communities is populated with holidays and festivals for reflection and gathering together. From Bodhi Day, the day of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, to Obon, the annual Japanese festival honoring the ancestors, monastics, and laypeople alike mark many important days throughout the year with ritual and celebration. 

Learn about these holidays here.

Discover Level 3, Deck 2: 

Bodhi Day: The day of Shakyamuni’s enlightenment is celebrated by millions of Buddhists around the world. 

Dharma Day: The holiday of Asalha Puja celebrates the Buddha’s first teaching in Sarnath. 

Kathina: The festival of Kathina occurs at the end of the three-month-long rainy season retreat in Theravada countries.

Buddhist New Year celebrations: Celebrated differently in every culture, Buddhist communities generally see the New Year as a time for renewal and purification. 

Obon: The annual Obon festival in Japan is a time of remembering one’s ancestors. 

Ohigan: Celebrated in Japan at the spring and autumnal equinoxes, Ohigan is a time when the distance between the world of the living and the world of the dead is thought to be shortest. 

Sangha Day: Magha Puja marks the auspicious beginning of the Buddhist sangha. 

Uposatha days: These regular holidays are ritual cleansing days connected to the lunar calendar and observed by nuns, monks, and laypeople.

Vesak: Also known as Buddha Day, this important holiday in Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism honors the Buddha’s birth, death, and enlightenment. 


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