On the History of Vesak

Today is Vesak, the most universally observed of all Buddhist celebrations or holidays. Traditionally it is believed that the Buddha was born, awakened and passed into final Nirvana on the same day, the full moon of the second month of the ancient Indian called Vesakha, which corresponds to the modern April-May. For at least the last 60 years Vesakha has been widely pronounced as Vesak, the Sinhalese way of saying it. Why not the Thai (Waistkha), the Tibetan (Sa Ga Dawa), the Korean (Seokga Tansinil) or the Vietnamese (Phat Dan) forms? Or for that matter, why not the Pali/Sanskrit Vesakha? Because in 1950 the inaugural meeting of the World Fellowship of Buddhists was held in, paid for and very much dominated by Ceylon, and so that country’s way of saying it became current.



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