Singapore Vesak Day Holiday
Vesak Day is a celebrated by Buddhists as it represents the birth, the enlightenment and the death of Buddha. Under the Singapore Employment Act, public holidays for the upcoming years from Vesak Day 2020 are as follows:
|19 May 2019||Sunday*||Vesak Day 2019|
|20 May 2019||Monday||Vesak Day Holiday 2019|
|7 May 2020||Thursday||Vesak Day 2020|
|26 May 2021||Wednesday||Vesak Day 2021|
|15 May 2022||Sunday*||Vesak Day 2022|
|16 May 2022||Monday||Vesak Day Holiday 2022|
|2 Jun 2023||Friday||Vesak Day 2023|
|22 May 2024||Wednesday||Vesak Day 2024|
Note: Any holidays that fall on a Sunday will be replaced the following Monday. The dates in the table above are an estimate and will be updated once official dates are announced.
Learn Everything you need to know about Vesak Day in Singapore, including what to do
Vesak Day, also known as Visakha, is a day where Buddhists celebrate to commemorate the birth, enlightenment, death, and passing on of Nirvana to Buddha. It is one of the most significant days in the Buddhist calendar. It usually falls on the 15th day of the fourth month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. Vesak Day is recognized as a public holiday in Singapore.
Celebrations of the Vesak Day in Singapore
Buddhists consider the Vesak Day as a time to rededicate themselves to the teachings of Buddha. The day normally starts at the crack of dawn. The first order of the day is to hoist the Buddhist flag, followed by singing of hymns in praise of Buddha, his teachings and his disciples.
Worshipers bring along flowers, candles, and incense as offerings and then lay them at the feet of the statues and leave them to burn. The act of the candles and incense burning and dropping down to wither the flowers has a significant importance for the day. It signifies that life is transient and fleeting and that eventually, everything will decay and pass away.
According to the Buddhists faith, doing good on this day may increase merit multiple times. Due to this, the worshippers devote the rest of the day to doing acts of kindness. It is common to find Buddhist youths organizing worthy causes such as mass blood donations in hospitals, visiting homes of the aged, and giving cash to street families. Some will also give gifts and food to the poor and the needy, release caged animals and birds, and perform other acts of generosity. Dana is the name for such acts of generosity among the Buddhists.
A candlelight procession through the streets of Singapore usually marks the end of the celebrations. During the procession, statues of the Lord Buddha are illuminated and devotees practice the “three step, one bow ritual.” In this ritual, the devotees walk on both knees and then bow on the third step. When they bow, they make their prayers for prosperity, world peace and repentance to Lord Buddha. This is usually an exhausting two-hour procession. However, it is a great way to end the Vesak Day if you subscribe to the Buddhist faith.
What to do during Vesak Day in Singapore
It is sad that most people in Singapore – apart from the Buddhists, are never aware of the importance of Vesak Day. To them, it is just another day to stay away from work. If you are a Buddhist, then you will have to join the other devotees in marking the day. But if you are not a Buddhist, you can still take the opportunity to learn new experiences about the Buddhist culture by being involved in the various festivities that will be taking place across the major temples. The nature of the activities may change from year to year. However, here is a list of places you can visit to make the most out of the Vesak Day in Singapore.
Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
The Bright Hill Temple happens to be the largest Buddhist temple in the country. It is one of the hot spots to get a wholesome experience of the Vesak Day celebrations. Other than marveling at the architecture, sculptures, and paintings of the temple, it is always the site of a plethora of activities during Vesak Day in Singapore. There are tours which you can take to learn more about Buddha. There is a family fun corner where you and your little ones can enjoy thrilling juggling performances and drama showcases. Also, if you want to have a clear picture of the 3 Step 1 Bow ceremony, then this is the best place to be at the end of the day’s celebrations.
Visit Amitabha Buddhist Center
Amitabha Buddhist Center has been hosting a variety of Dana activities for the last 20 years. It is another great spot to check out on Vesak Day in Singapore. Other than the beauty of the center, you will also enjoy observing or taking part in the prayer rituals by the Buddhists. These prayers are to remove obstacles and cure illnesses. The center is also a collection point for those who would like to donate items in the spirit of Dana.
Visit the Mangala Vihara Temple
Mangala Vihara Temple also goes by the name ‘the Shrine of Blessings.’ It is another great site to visit on Vesak Day to gain more insights about the Buddhist faith. Within the premises of this temple, there is a section where the Bodhi Tree is grown. It is a progeny of the exact tree that Buddha sat under at the time he got enlightenment in India. The Buddhists believe that the original tree will be the last place to be destroyed when the world ends. You can search for this tree on Vesak Day in Singapore and watch as devotees offer candles and lotus flowers to the sacred trees.