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Buddhist Holidays

S.NO. Buddhist Holidays Month/Date Days
1 Higan I
2 Birthday Sakyamuni Buddha
3 Poson
4 Waso
5 Ghost Festival
6 Higan II
7 Festival Nine Imperial Gods
8 Thadingyut
9 Birthday Bodhidharma
10 Birthday Amitabha Buddha
11 Enlightenment Sakyamuni Buddha
12 Beginning of Buddhist Lent
13 End of Buddhist Lent
14 Buddha's First Sermon
15 Buddha Descension Day
16 Floating Lantern Ceremony
17 Buddha Parinirvana February 15 Wednesday
18 Buddha Parinirvana February 15 Wednesday
19 Nirvana Day February 15 Wednesday
20 Magha Puja March 12 Sunday
21 Buddha Day May 10 Wednesday
22 Vesak May 10 Wednesday
23 Obon Festival July 13 Thursday
24 Panchadaan II August 1 Tuesday
25 Panchadaan I August 1 Tuesday
26 Raksha Bandhana August 7 Monday
27 Double-Sixth Festival August 28 Monday
28 Bodhi Day December 8 Friday
Buddhism religion is founded in northeastern India in the 5th century BCE. Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, called the Buddha. Buddhism and its belief system have spread throughout the world. Buddhism is the fourth largest organized religion in the world. Buddhism is a religion to about 300 million people around the world. Many, Buddhism go beyond religion and are more of a philosophy or 'way of life'. While Buddhism was welcomed by the ruling nobles as Japan's new state religion, it did not initially spread among the common people due to its complex theories. In the early 21st century, the various traditions of Buddhism together had more than 375 million followers. They follow many different forms of Buddhism, but all traditions are characterized by non-violence, lack of dogma, tolerance of differences, and, usually, by the practice of meditation. Buddhism agrees with the moral teachings of other religions but Buddhism goes further by providing a long term purpose within our existence, through wisdom and true understanding. Real Buddhism is very tolerant and not concerned with labels like 'Christian', 'Moslem', 'Hindu' or 'Buddhist'. Buddhism teaches that wisdom should be developed with compassion. Wisdom requires an open, objective, unbigoted mind.
Buddhist Beliefs
Buddhists wear prayer beads as an emblem of their dedication and belief in Buddhism. Modern influences increasingly lead to new forms of Buddhism that significantly depart from traditional beliefs and practices. The basic Buddhist belief comprise of the basic teachings and concepts of Buddhism.

Basic Points of Buddhism: Chief monks belonging to both the Theravada sect and the Mahayana sect met in Sri Lanka in the year 1966 and approved the following "Basic Points Unifying the Theravada and Mahayana".

1. Buddha is our only Master.
2. We take refuge in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha.
3. This world is not created and ruled by a God.
4. The purpose of life is to develop empathy for all living beings without prejudice and to work for their good, happiness, and peace. Last but not the least; we need acquire acumen that will lead to the realization of Ultimate Truth.
5. We accept the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism
6. All accustomed things (samskaara) are transient (anitya) and dukkha and all conditioned and unconditioned things (dharma) are without self (anaatma).
7. The Thirty-seven qualities helpful in Enlightenment are different aspects of the path taught by the Buddha.
8. There are three ways of attaining Enlightenment, namely as a Disciple, as a Pratyeka-Buddha and as a Samyak-sam-Buddha. The life of a Bodhisattva, who is striving to become a Samyak-sam-Buddha, is the highest, noblest and the most heroic.
9. The different Buddhist beliefs, practices, rites and ceremonies, customs and habits followed in different countries should not be confused with the essential teachings of Buddha.

Is Buddhism Atheistic?: Buddhism does not believe in the existence of a God who created the universe. Buddha did not rule out the existence of a God or gods altogether. Buddhism is not about either believing or not believing in God or gods. Rather, the historical Buddha taught that believing in gods was not useful for those seeking to realize enlightenment. They don't realize that, for many, Buddhism is essentially an atheistic religion. The Buddhist concept of God is different from that of other religions. Differences in belief do not justify name-calling and slanderous words. Buddhism agrees with other religions that true and lasting happiness cannot be found in this material world.

Buddhas and Deities: Many Mahayanists, but especially Vajrayana Buddhists, utilize images of buddhas and bodhisattvas in their practice. In Buddhism, the deities perform different types of functions for the practitioner. The most popular Buddhist deities are Kuan Yin, the Medicine Buddha, the Laughing Buddha and the Green and White Taras.

Human Nature: Human nature is illustrated by the Buddhist teaching of dependent origination, or arising, which shows how poisonous mental states give rise to suffering. Ignorance is a real limitation in life; it is a burden, a problem. In Buddhism this burden is called dukkha or suffering. Because human beings are born with ignorance, they do not really know how to conduct their lives. In Buddhism this blind craving is called tanha. The Wheel of Life and Death is a depiction of the universe where all beings reside, but it is also the universe of each individual as he or she faces samsara. For others, the purpose of life might be to accumulate merit so that one can be born to a better life next time or perhaps someday to become a bodhisattva. These components combine to form a human being at the time of birth.

Purpose of Life: The main aim of life, as per Buddhism, is the extinction of suffering. The goal of human life according to Buddhism is Nirvana. Nirvana can be understood as the blowing out of desire. Nirvana comes at two moments in the Buddha's life. At the moment of his awakening, when he understood that he was no longer adding fuel to the fire that fed his personality; and at the moment of his Parinirvana, his passing, when the fire of his personality finally flickered out. Nirvana is an image of cessation. The goal of human life according to Buddhists is the cessation of activity.

Reincarnation and Afterlife: Reincarnation in Buddhism is not emphasized. In fact the Buddha denied the existence of the soul. "Reincarnation" normally is understood to be the transmigration of a soul to another body after death. Buddhism has often been compared to Christianity in that it emphasizes care for one's neighbor in its Eightfold Path. Buddha accepted the basic Hindu doctrines of reincarnation and karma. As well as the notion that ultimate goal of the religious life is to escape the cycle of death and rebirth. Where Buddha departed most radically from Hinduism was in his doctrine of "anatta".
Buddhist History
Life of the Buddha: The Gouthama Buddha was a young Indian prince. His full name is Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. He was born as a royal prince in 624 BC in a place called Lumbini, which was originally in northern India but is now part of Nepal. At the age of 29, he left his wife, child and political involvements in order to seek truth. In his early years he lived as a prince in his royal palace but when he was 29 years old he retired to the forest where he followed a spiritual life of meditation. After six years he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, India. He studied Brahmanism, but ultimately rejected it. His intention in founding Buddhism was to lead living beings to permanent liberation from suffering.

The First Buddhist Council: The first council was called by Elder Mahakassapa after him overhead a monk Subhadda. The First Buddhist council was convened in the year following the Buddha's Parinibbana. Elder Mahakassapa wanted to call a council with the intention of establishing a standardized record of the Buddha’s teaching in order to preserve its purity. The Elder Mahakassapa then focussed his attention on Ananda in virtue of his respectable expertise in all matters linked with the Dhamma. Before the Buddha's Parinirvanana, he had told Ananda that if the Sangha wished to amend or modify some minor rules, they could do so. The Dharma was recited daily by groups of people who regularly cross-checked with each other to ensure that no omissions or additions were made.

The Sangha: Buddhism is an ancient tradition, a spiritual path, which was discovered nearly two thousand six hundred years ago by the great sage, Buddha Shakyamuni. E-Sangha’s main objective is to provide those who are interested in learning more about Buddhism a meeting place where participants can learn through discussions, and come to a correct understanding of the various aspects involved in Buddha's teachings. Members of the Sangha are not priests in the ordinary sense of the word.

The Second Buddhist Council: The Second Council was called one hundred years after the Buddha's Pari nibbana in order to settle a serious dispute over the ten points. Some time after the Second Council, rifts occurred within the monastic Sangha, which led to the formation of several subgroups like Sthaviravada, Mahasanghika and Sarvastivada. The Second Buddhist Council made the unanimous decision not to relax any of the rules, and reprimanded the behaviour of the monks who were charged of profaning the ten points. The initial dispute arose over the 'Ten Points.' This is a reference to claims of some monks breaking ten minor rules. They were given below.
1. Stacking salt in a horn.
2. Eating after midday.
3. Eating once and then going again to a village for alms.
4. Holding the Uposatha Ceremony with monks inhabiting in the same locality.
5. Carrying out official acts when the assembly was unfinished.
6. Following a specific practice because it was done by one`s teacher.
7. Drinking sour milk after one have had his midday meal.
8. Consuming liquor before it had been fermented.
9. Using a carpet which was of improper size.
10. Making use of gold and silver.

The Council decided against relaxing any of these rules and censured the monks who were accused of violating the Ten Points.

Conversion of Emperor Asoka: Ashoka the Great was the emperor of the Mauryan Empire from 273 BCE to 232 BCE. As a prince, Ashoka was known for his ruthless character. Ashoka had ambitious plans to expand his empire through military conquests. He also encouraged them to be tolerant of all faiths and to show reverence to holy men. There is every reason to assume that he was raised in the Jain faith and followed it to the end. Ashoka sent Buddhist missionaries to the far corners of the known world.

Spread of Buddhism to Southeast Asia: In the first millennium of the Common Era, Buddhism spread throughout Asia, spawning new social identities, new languages, and new institutions. Ashoka, who ruled much of the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century B.C.E., encouraged the spread of Buddhism. As the religion moved into new territories where there was a desire to read and study Buddhist texts, monks became involved in massive translation projects. At present, however, three major forms survive in Buddhism i.e one Hinayana, known as Theravada, in Southeast Asia, and two Mahayana, namely the Chinese and Tibetan traditions.

Spread of Buddhism to the Hellenistic World: Siddhartha Gautama was founder of Buddhism, was born a wealthy prince in northeastern India. This makes it one of the oldest religions practiced today. Throughout this period, the religion evolved as it encountered various countries and cultures, adding to its original Indian foundation Hellenistic as well as Central Asian, East Asian, and Southeast Asian cultural elements.
Buddhist Practices
Buddhism spread from India across many parts of Asia. Buddhist practices differ widely in various parts of the world. According to the Mahayana, a Bodhisattva practices in the six perfections: giving, morality, patience, joyous effort, concentration and wisdom. In Japan for instance it is quite normal for people to only start practicing Buddhism when they are old, or sick. Meditation enables us to cultivate those states of mind that are conducive to peace and well-being, and eradicate those that are not. Buddhist monk and nuns are some time hermits and sometime live communally.
Buddhist Texts
Buddhist sacred texts, on the other hand, are thought of as guides on the path to truth, not truth itself. There are many sacred texts in Buddhism, but not all texts are accepted by all schools. Texts can be divided up in a number of ways, but the most fundamental division is between canonical and non-canonical texts. Commercial texts are, in some way or other, associated with Gautama Buddha.

Tripitaka (Pali Canon): Tripitaka is the earliest collection of Buddhist writings. Tripitaka word means "the three baskets". The Tripitaka is the sole canonical text in Theravada Buddhism. The first category, the Vinaya Pitaka, was the code of ethics to be obeyed by the early sangha, monks and nuns. The second category, the Sutra Pitaka consists primarily of accounts of the Buddha's life and teachings. The third category is known to the Theravada school as the Abhidhamma Pitaka. The baskets are divided by subject matter. The first basket is the Discipline Basket. The second basket is the Discourse Basket it contains records of the Buddha's teachings and sermons.

Mahayana Sutras: Mahayana Sutras contains the detailed teachings of Buddha. While Mahayana Buddhism reveres the Tripitaka as a holy text, they add to it a total of 2184 sacred writings. Most of these writings go under the name of Sutra. The most important Sutra is the Lotus Sutra. The Heart Sutra also plays an important role in Buddhism. The Heart Sutra is part of this larger text. A Sutra called "Land of Bliss" describes the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha.

Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Tibetan Book of the Dead is the most famous works of Buddhist literature. The Bardo Thodol also spelled Bardo Thotrol, translated as The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Tibetan Buddhism was traditionally read aloud to the dying to help them attain liberation. Buddhist teachings on death and rebirth are not simple to understand. The consciousness that remains experiences the true nature of mind as a dazzling light or luminosity.
Buddhist Sects, Schools & Denominations
There are many divisions and subdivisions of the schools of Buddhism. The most common classification among scholars is threefold. The three branches are Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Theravada is the school of Buddhism that draws its scriptural inspiration from the Tipitaka. The main schools of Mahayana Buddhism today are Pure Land, Zen, Nichiren Buddhism, Shingon, Tibetan Buddhism and Tendai. Vajrayana, or Tantric Buddhism, has been described as the latest phase in the development and evolution of Buddhist thought.

All Buddhist holidays are listed above. To learn more about a specific Buddhist holiday, please click the link of that particular Buddhist holiday.