Wesak Day in Malaysia

Wesak Day is a holiday observed traditionally by the devout worshipers of Lord Buddha, the Enlightened One. Wesak Day is celebrated by Buddhists throughout the world especially in Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Bangladesh and South East Asian countries which include Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. Wesak Day, or sometimes known as Wesakha, is informally referred to as ‘Buddha’s Birthday’, with the special day being commemorated in honoring the birth, enlightenment (nirvana) as well as passing away (Parinirvana) of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. The holiday is usually known by its Sanskrit name in Mahayana Buddhist traditions.

Wesak Day marks the three major events in Buddha’s life, namely his birth, his enlightenment and his achievement of Nirvana. The commemoration of these events on Wesak Day usually begins at dawn at Buddhist temples throughout the country. Devotees gather to meditate on the Eight Precepts. Monks in saffron colored robes chant the sutras in unison. A candle procession is the highlight of the celebration, and at the same time, offerings of prayers, joss sticks, and incense, giving food to the needy and donations are also made. Much to the delight of all devout Buddhists (and those non-celebrating as well) in Malaysia, Wesak Day is considered one of the national public holidays.

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There is a wide variety when it comes to determining the exact date of the Wesak Day celebration. Various lunar calendars are used in different traditions to determine the date. Those who celebrate Wesak Day in Korea, Japan and China usually mark the celebration on 8th of April each year. Regardless of the different dates for the celebration of the holy day, Wesak Day is observed by all sects of Buddhist and observances by the devotes on that day include ‘bathing’ the Buddha, giving to charity, abstaining from meat through the consumption of vegetarian food, meditation and observing the eight percepts.

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Every year in Malaysia, thousands of devotees from all walks of life gather in the spirit of Buddha. At the Malaysian Buddhist Association, ardent devotees queued patiently to take turns to bathe the Buddha statue, which is a special ritual that represents the purification and cleansing of one’s soul. Aside from that, devotees who go into the shrine hall are able to light the lotus-shaped candles and seek Buddha’s blessings. At the end of the prayers, well-wishers and devotees come together to dine on simple offerings of vegetarian food and drinks.

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Wesak Day 2012 takes place on the 5th of May. The Wesak Day Parade starts at 7pm at the Buddhist Temple Maha Vihara, in Brickfields, an area just outside of the city center. From there the parade slowly makes its way to the Bukit Bintang area. I am not 100% sure if the parade follows the same route each year, but it is certain that they will pass Jalan Raja Chulan, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Bukit Bintang at some point in the evening. From the city center the parade makes its way back to Brickfields again, where the last decorated floats arrives around 11pm.

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If you want to witness the actual start of the parade, make sure you are in the Brickfields area well before the parade departs; the streets will be jammed around that time. Tourists that are staying in the Bukit Bintang area should head over to the purple/brown HSBC building along Jalan Sultan Ismail for the best views. Those staying in Chinatown will be able to see the parade in front of the Central Market and later when it returns from KLCC, also along Jalan Pudu in front of Pudu Central.

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Route Wesak Day Parade

Last year JAF from Asian Peanuts made a nice map that depicts the route that is usually followed. The official Buddhist Maha Vihara Temple has published a Wesak Day 2012 schedule. Below JAF’s map of the Wesak Day Parade.


Got any good tips to share with us? Do you know of any great things to do in Kuala Lumpur, or tips on the best places to eat? Let us know by leaving a reply below!

5 comments on Wesak Day in Malaysia

  1. Karen
    5 years ago
    May 20, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Please advice road for tomorow

  2. wendy
    4 years ago
    May 9, 2017 at 6:30 am

    please advise is there any candle light procession this year 2017?
    I would like to follow.

  3. Itororo.Net
    3 years ago
    March 31, 2019 at 12:05 am

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    Obrigado ρelo post. I’ll certamente retornar.

  4. lee
    2 months ago
    August 22, 2021 at 10:02 am

    Dear brother and sister,

    I am Myanmar who working in Malaysia more than 10 years and I would like to explain about SAMNAK SAMBODHI BUDDHIST ASSOCIATION. Therefore, recently I stayed at Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary (SBS), Taiping, Perak. I am very close with Ven. U Nandiya Maha Thero.

    My monk Ven. U Nandiya is very good heart and compassion to everyone in the world, also I heard when he stayed at Kuala Lumpur Buddhist Temple, he lend donation money to President of Temple(Datuk Yip Kum Fook, MCA Gombak) with amount RM20,000.00 only and he said that money belong to Myanmar society in Malaysia.

    On the other hand, my monk said, also many things happened when he stayed there because committees always disturbing, I am very sadly about that matter, why committees are very poor and crooks. Others Temple, people come to Temple to respected Buddha and Monks, also give red packet to monks. Why this Temple, monks must give money to committees, this is opposite.

    If anyone receive or read this message, please inform to DATUK YIP KUM FOOK to return that amount to my monk as soon as possible.

    My monk contact place:

    Ven. U Nandiya
    Sasana Daja Buddhist Temple
    49 Bombay Street, Lidcombe NSW 2141.
    Tel: (02) 9649-8124

  5. lee
    4 days ago
    October 12, 2021 at 11:19 am

    Datuk Yip Kum Fook attacked Buddhist monk
    written by heng , March 28, 2010
    2.Ven. Phra Piya Thammo,
    Rumah Pangsa
    Blk A-7-9- Jln Padang Tembak,
    11400 Pulau Pinang,

    Dear Devotees,

    Before I commence of my letter-writing toward. All of you, I would like to inform all of you that I am not satisfy with the lawyer, Dato YIP KUM FOOK due to his bad inspirit impressions because he sent an inspector to come to our Buddhist Temple to arrest me without any good reason, moreover, the lawyer, YIP KUM FOOK is not satisfy with Chief monk.

    When the Chief monk had me to go to his Temple already and he went away and left me alone to take care until Chief monk come back to the Temple first and he also told me not to leave the Temple if any committees or the chairman want to chase me out, you don’t leave the Temple at all understand? Then I said, alright? To the chief monk! On the second Day, YIP KUM FOOK came to our Temple and talk to me. He tired to make some inquiry from me and he asked me, where I come from? I told him that I came from Penang.

    Then, I told to the lawyer (YIP KUM FOOK) that the chief monk came to Penang and fetch me and invited me to accompany him to go to his temple in K.L. I am not aware that YIP KUM FOOK is not in a good terms with the chief monk, chief monk already in this way, YIP KUM FOOK try to create trouble with me unnecessary. That is why, the lawyer want to chase me out of the Temple. Then I asked the lawyer, why you want to chase me out of the temple? Moreover, the Temple is not belonging to you, UNDERSATAND? Then, I asked him, who are you? I don’t know you at all, you have no right to chase me or control me at all, UNDERSTAND? You are just like a layman only. Do you know the regulations that any the chairman or committee cannot control the monks and the Nuns at all, also UNDERSTAND?

    I scolded him like that. Then the lawyer (YIP KUM FOOK) is not satisfy with me and he told me that he will called the police to come to the Temple and arrest me. I told him to go ahead and called the police to come and arrest me. I won’t run away, I said to him like that. I have done nothing wrong toward you, why you want to arrest me? He said, he doesn’t like me to stay here. I asked him, why? Again. After this he got very angry with me, then he phoned up to the police and the police came to the Temple and told me to leave the Temple.

    I told to the inspector of the again, 1 am sorry, I won’t leave the Temple because the chief monk had instructed me not to leave the Temple without his consent, UNDERSTAND? Then the inspector told me to leave, again. I told him I cannot leave the Temple because the Chief Monk hasn’t come back yet. This time, the inspector got very angry with me and he took out his handcuff and try to threaten me, then I immediately show off my hands for him to lock me up but he scare, then again, the inspector told me leave the Temple again but I still don’t want to leave the Temple.

    Then I phoned up to the chief monk again and I told him that the inspector insisted want to arrest me, you better come back to settle the case for me. After this incident, Chief Monk came back to the Temple and take me to go to another temple and stay their. That’s all about this incidents! Last of all, I would like to inform all of you, that no committees or the chairman can control all the monks and Nuns at all also UNDERSTAND? “They are higher than the King,” also! So how can the laymen, the committees and the chairman to control them: – EVEN THE KING ALSO RESPECTED THE MONKS AND NUNS. Why the chairman doesn’t respect the monks and nuns? They will carry the sins later on, UNDERSTAND?

    Yours in Dhamma

    Ven. Phra Piya Thammo
    Penang, Malaysia
    Tel: 04-48272710


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