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Vesak, tomorrow? Soon? Or not so soon?
May 1st, 2015

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

Vesak, tomorrow? Soon? Or not so soon?

   In 2015, Vesak is on June 1st,
   however, May 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 25th or June 2nd are candidates too! ;-)
   Six buddhas born in a mere month? Lucky world [suggested unrelated music: with the harmonica solos never replayed, wait for them]!

   "The 8th day of the 4th lunar month" (Chinese calendar) definition would give May 25th… and, indeed, China takes May 25th for Vesak this year. So does Wolfram Alpha (

   Most countries use the "full moon that follows" though. In 2015, this would mean June 1st.
   The official date in Thailand, Singapore, Laos but also for the United Nations ( is indeed June 1st. Indonesia goes for June 2nd though ;-)

   The difficulty in 2015 comes from the fact that Chinese New year is exceptionally late in February (19th). One has to go back to 1985 or 1920 to find a later day in the month (20th).
   Because of such a late New Year, the "full moon that follows" falls in June, instead of the more ordinary result in May.
   The difficulty is that many countries have assumed that Vesak has to be in May and are therefore breaking away from the standard definition this year, and celebrating Vesak a whole lunar month in advance!
   Myanmar picked May 2nd while Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Cambodia picked May 3rd. Nepal and India picked May 4th ;-)

   One might suspect that the difference stems from a difference in main tradition per country. But Sri Lanka and Thailand are both Theravāda countries… The difficulty seems to be purely about a traditional "full moon that follows the 8th day of the 4th lunar month"  vs. the Gregorian-calendar adaptation as "full moon in May."  Countries usually agreeing suddenly differ if the full moon is not in May.

   It is fun to note that the resolution of the UN to celebrate Vesak was adopted at the request of the Sri Lanka… but their official dates differ this year!
   So, among the confusion and the various forms of "I'm right, you're wrong,"  shall we meditate on this, or sleep on it? ;-)

#Buddhism   #Vesak   #calendar  
Illustration © Jim Davis