Myanmar: Kason Festival – Buddha Day

Yesterday, 1st of May – well known for International Labor day, happens to be one very significant day for Myanmar Buddhist people. This month in Myanmar calendar is called “Kason” and Burmese celebrate one of the most religious and historically significant events on Kason full moon day. It is also known as Vesak Day or Buddha Day. (As this May has two full moon days, some countries – Thailand and Singapore will be celebrating the Vesak day on May 31)

Kason full moon day is signified by four most important days in Lord Buddha life time:

  1. the day he had been prophesied to become the next Buddha,
  2. the day Lord Buddha was born,
  3. the day he achieved Enlightenment and
  4. the day he entered Parinirvana.

Burmese celebrate this day by watering the scared Bodhi tree at various pagodas throughout the country. This is done as a mark of veneration to the Buddha who attained Enlightenment sitting under the Bodhi Tree.

Kason 3
Photos via: Goldenlandpages

Along with the celebration, Myanmar bloggers are blogging about their thoughts and experience on the festival.

Melody Maung and her friends are planning to go to Shwe Dagon Pagoda for the Kason festival in the evening and posted the essay abstract of Kason festival by Mr. Khin Aung(English)

Kason(May), the second month in the Myanmar calendar, is deemed the hottest month of the hot season. Yet it is the most significant day in the Buddhist world. The full moon day of Kason is deeply intertwined with the milestones in the Buddhas life. It is a day four times blessed. To Myanmars it is the festival of pouring water on the Bodhi tree. This day is called Vesak Day in other Buddhist countries.

The full moon day of Kason is the Buddha Day, celebrated by the Buddhist faithful throughout the world. On this day Dipankara Buddha prophesied to the hermit Sumedha that he would become Gotama Buddha, the latest one in this Baddha World, who again on suchlike days was born, attained Enlightenment(i.e, became the Buddha), and entered Parinibbana(i.e, passed away).

The Bodhi tree(Ficus Religiosa), under which former prince Siddhattha attained Enlightenment, is held sacred. Hence the act of pouring water on it is an expressiion of piety and respect shown to him. The Kason-water pouring ceremony is usually preceded by a brilliant pageantry. Participants come carrying pots of water and Eugenia springs and flowers. Then chanting of Paritta verses, a brief explanation of the rites, recitation of poems praising the Lord Buddha. Finally, water is poured at the foot of the Bodhi tree. Yet festive atmosphere is not lacking: light refreshments are served accompanied by music and dance performed by amateur merry-makers.

Every pagoda in Myanmar worth its salt has a sacred site complete with a Bodhi tree in its precincts. You can watch grander Kason ceremonies at all the bigger pagodas including the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Maydarwii wonders about the significant of Kason festival after her morning prayers. She also posted some of the famous recites, poems and a short verses about the day.

Zaw Moe Aung talks about Kason full moon day celebration in Mandalay (2nd largest city). He mentioned that shops around the whole city have been closed for the day and how he missed to take photograph of Kason Pwe at certain pagoda.

Kason1
Photos via: Goldenlandpages

Wai Myint Maw explains about why Bodhi trees have been watered on the day. Kason being one of the hottest months in Myanmar, lots of rivers and streams dried up in this season. It is a Burmese tradition to worship Buddha by pouring water to the Bodhi trees at this hot season. The event is known as “Kason Nyoun Yae Toon Pwe“. It is also assumed as the second Thingyan(water festival) for people of Mandalay as they pour water at each other after the Bodhi tree watering ceremony.

Kason2
Photos via: Goldenlandpages

Yesterday being a special day as well as a beautiful full moon day, I hope people in Myanmar and all Myanmar bloggers could carry out many meritorious deeds and share the joy with each other.

4 comments

  • Sayalay Bhadda Manika

    Sadhu, sadhu,sadhu for all the religious activities concerning the Buddha day, Buddha Jayanti written above by May Hnin Phyu ( the pictures made me feel homesick! ).
    Here in Lumbini, Nepal, the Vesak Fullmoon day, today has celebreated by the Buddhists of different traditions in the beautiful Park called Lumbini Sacred Garden where Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in the year 623 B.C. The annual program has sponsored by the Lumbini Development Trust, under the Ministry of Culture & Tourism of the Govt. of Nepal. By the request of the Trust, today I had to give a short speech / history on the significance of the Vesak Full Moon Day. Scholarships have been granted every year to the outstanding school children on this Vesak Occasion, certificates of thanks are given to the Temples and monasteries which help implementing the MasterPlan of Lumbini and all the invited sangha, Theravada, Mahayana- monks,novices & nuns are offered with lunch and offertories.
    The United Nations had announced this day as “The Lumbini Day “, and it became the government holiday.
    Though I’ve been very much fit in with this culture here
    as the daughter of the Buddha more than 8 yrs. ago, after reading this article of May Hnin Phyu on the Kason La Pye, I couldn’t help myself from writing this in order to share just one glance from the corner near the Himalayas how the Buddhists, peace-loving people in the birth place of the Buddha celebreate this Buddha Day, the auspicious and eventful day. with much metta from Lumbini… Sayalay Bhadda Manika

  • Sincere thanks to Sayarlay for the information on the Lumbini Day and also your kind comment. :-)

  • van anh

    in my country vesak will be celebrating in may 31.

  • hi ma,

    Thanks to come and visit my blog and write about my posting the essay abstract of Kason festival by Mr. Khin Aung(English). But, this link is not linked with my blog very well. What happened?
    I want to remind you for your linking.
    Don’t be getting annoyed my comments.

    with luvs,

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