Religious Vesak 2555 BE Celebrations at Borobudur

17 May 2011 - 17 May 2011

On May 17th 2011, the colossal Borobudur Temple will be the site of Buddhism’s most momentous ritual ceremony:  the Vesak Day.

The event is preceded by a ritual to obtain holy water from the pristine springs at Jumprit in the Temanggung district. This takes place on May 14th. The holy water will then be kept in the small Mendut Temple near Borobudur.  The following day, on May 15th is the ritual of igniting the Vesak torch,whose flames are taken from the natural eternal flames at Mrapen in the village of Grobogan, in the Purwodadi district, Central Java. The flame and holy water are kept in the Mendut Temple to be carried and used during the ceremony at Borobudur on the actual Vesak day.

This year, the Perwakilan Umat Buddha Indonesia (WALUBI) or the Indonesian Buddhists Representatives Association, which leads the ceremony has designated the theme of Vesak 2555 BE as:  “Seeking Happiness and Serenity Within Oneself”.               

Also known as Visakah Puja or Buddha Purnima in India, Visakha Bucha in Thailand and Waisak in Indonesia, the ceremony is globally known as Vesak,  whch is derived from the Pali Language: “Vesākha” which has its origins in the ancient Sanskrit word: Vaiśākha”

Conducted annually during the full moon in the month of May or at the purnama sidhi , Vesak  commemorates  three most important events in the life of Siddharta Gautama  known as the Tri Suci Waisak. The first important event is the Birth of Prince Siddharta at the Lumbini Gardens in 623 BC. The second episode is the enlightenment (nirvāṇa) in which Prince Siddharta became the Buddha in Bodhgaya at the age of 35 in 588 BC, and the third is the passing away (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha at Kusinara at the age of 80 in 543 BC. Thus, Vesak is also known as simply Budhha’s day.

The ritual will commence early in the morning at about 08.00 am Western Indonesia Time when monks and congregations gather at the  Mendut Temple and begin a journey on foot to the Borobudur Temple,  which takes roughly about 3 hours. From mid-day to the afternoon each congregation will perform separate rituals until they all gather at the main altar at 15.30 western Indonesia time (WIB).  At 16.00 WIB, there will be opening speeches from the Chairperson of WALUBI, WALUBI representative, Venerable Heng Chih, and Master Tenzin Priyadarsi. Each assemblage subsequently gives  prayers of praise, followed by reflections on Vesak, given by Bhiksu Dutavira Mahasthavira.

At precisely 18.08.23 WIB is the pinnacle of Vesak Day, when all participants fall in deep ascetical state during the seconds of the full moon. Vesak messages from Bhikkhu Wongsin Labhiko Mahathera follow, continued by blessings from 15 Sangha Bhikkhu. At 20.00 WIB, the Ghata Visaka Puja will be recited followed by Pradaksina or the ritual of circling the Borobudur Temple three times. Marking the end of Vesak’s rituals series, at approximately 20.30 WIB,  some 1,000 Puja lanterns will be released into the sky symbolizing enlightenment to the entire universe.

The phenomenal Borobudur Buddhist Temple in Central Java, built between the 8th and 9th century has been designated UNESCO World Heritage 

Borobudur is easily accessible from Yogyakarta or Semarang. There are frequent flights from Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali to these two cities.

For more information on Vesak Day ceremonies, visit the Indonesian Buddhist Representatives’ official website:

Related Links