#1 Best Guide: Buddha’s Birthday In Hong Kong

buddha birthday in hong kong

We humans aren’t the only ones with birthdays—Gods have them too! Introducing Buddha’s Birthday, also known as Buddha Day. As its name suggests, Buddha’s Birthday in Hong Kong and other places is a Buddhist festival that commemorates the birth of Prince Siddhārtha Gautama, who later came to be known as Buddha, the founder of Buddhism! It is a deeply spiritual occasion. This holiday allows devoted Buddhists to take time to reflect upon Buddha’s timeless teachings. 

Where And When Is Buddha’s Birthday Celebrated?

Buddha’s birthday is celebrated across South, Southeast, and East Asia. This includes South Asian countries like India and Nepal, Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, and East Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. However, this article will discuss Buddha’s birthday, specifically in Hong Kong. 

In general, South Asian and Southeast Asian countries (except for Vietnam and the Philippines) and Mongolia celebrate Buddha’s Birthday on the full moon day of the Vaisakha (April/May) month of the Buddhist and Hindu calendars. 

This festival is also known as Buddha Purnima in South Asian countries like India and Nepal, with the word ‘purnima‘ meaning ‘full moon day’ in Sanskrit. It’s also called Buddha Jayanti, with the word ‘Jayant‘ meaning ‘birthday’ in Sanskrit. 

On the other hand, most East Asian countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Hong Kong, celebrate Buddha’s Birthday on the 8th day of the 4th month (from the end of April to the end of May) in the Chinese lunar calendar. This day is also an official holiday in Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea. 

An image of Buddha's statue in Hongkong

How Is Buddha’s Birthday Celebrated In Hong Kong?

As mentioned earlier, Buddha’s birthday has been designated a public holiday in Hong Kong since 1999. This makes it the only Chinese traditional religious holiday recognized as a public holiday! This year, Buddha’s Birthday will be on May 15th, 2024. 

Buddha Bathing Ceremony 

There are lots of ways to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday in Hong Kong! One of the most important ways is bathing small Buddha statues, which stems from the belief that Buddha’s body was sprayed with water from nine dragons when he was a baby. 

This ritual involves pouring fragrant water over small Buddha statues, usually on their shoulders. The water symbolizes spiritual cleansing, the purification of the soul, and the washing away of all negative energy. 

Visiting Temples And Monasteries 

People also visit various Buddhist temples and monasteries to pray, make offerings, and chant Buddhist sutras. The most popular Buddha’s Birthday Festival, however, takes place at the Po Lin Monastery (寶蓮禪寺), located on Ngong Ping Plateau (昂坪) on Lantau Island (大嶼山).

This majestic Buddhist Monastery is home to the famous Tian Tan Buddha statue, also known as The Big Buddha. Other than this place, there are also many Buddhist temples that are bustling with activities, such as the Chi Lin Nunnery (志蓮淨苑) and the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery (萬佛寺萬佛殿).

Eating Vegetarian Food

Some people will also opt to consume only vegetarian food (吃素) on Buddha’s Birthday. This not only symbolizes abstaining from harming animals but also the purification of their souls and ‘cleansing’ of their digestive systems. 

Popular vegetarian food includes rice with vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, beancurd skin, tofu, soya beans, mushrooms, plant-based meat, and more. Some people also enjoy vegetarian soups such as radish soup, vegetable and tofu soup, and more. 

Additionally, there’s a special Cantonese delicacy called yin sai cake. Usually, it is filled with sweetened lotus or red bean paste; these little green vegetarian cakes are said to have healing properties that can help detoxify our bodies and warm our stomachs.

Experience Annual Carnival 

Head down to Victoria Park for the annual Buddha festival, which offers an array of family-friendly activities, such as a vegetarian food fair, carnival games, and a parade. There will also be various rituals, such as the Buddha bathing ceremony, copying sutras, and more. 

Buddha temple - Buddha's Birthday in Hong Kong

How Do You Say Buddha’s Birthday In Cantonese?

In Cantonese, Buddha’s Birthday is translated as Fat6 daan3 zit3 (佛誕節). So, when talking about the Buddha’s Birthday in Hong Kong, you might say Hoeng1 gong2 fat6 daan3 zit3 (香港佛誕節).

While learning about Buddha’s Birthday in Hong Kong culture, you might want to learn some important words related to this topic. Here’s some essential vocabulary:

English TranslationCantonese Pronunciation
Buddha Statue 佛像fat6 zoeng6
Buddhist Calendar佛教曆 fat6 gaau3 lik6
Buddha’s Birthday Celebrations 佛誕慶祝 fat6 daan3 hing3 zuk1
Buddhist Tradition 佛教傳統 fat6 gaau3 cyun4 tung2
Buddhism 佛教 fat6 gaau3
Enlightenment 覺悟 gok3 ng6
Temple 寺院 si6 jyun6
Lanterns 燈籠 dang1 lung4
Hong Kong Buddhist Association 香港佛教聯合會 hoeng1 gong2 fat6 gaau3 lyun4 hap6 wui6
Meditation 冥想 ming4 soeng2
Dharma faat3
Karma 因果jan1 gwok2
Sangha (Buddhist community) 僧伽 sang1 gaa1
Nirvana 涅槃 nit6 paan4
Lotus Flower 蓮花 lin4 faa1
Mantra 咒語 zau6 jyu5
Sutra 經典 ging1 din2
Bodhisattva 菩薩 pou4 saat3

1. When Is The Buddhist Festival In Hong Kong?

Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, typically in May. Since 1999, this day has been designated as a public holiday in Hong Kong, making it the only Chinese traditional religious holiday recognized as a public holiday.

2. What Is Buddha Purnima And Why Is It Celebrated? 

Buddha Purnima celebrates the birth of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. It is celebrated on the Full Moon Day of Vaisakh. For Buddhists, Buddha Purnima is the most significant day because, on this day, three important events of the Buddha’s life took place: his birth, his attaining enlightenment, and his death, Paranirvana.

3. What Do Buddhists Do On Vesak Day?

Many Buddhists will go to their local temple, and some might even stay there throughout the day and night of the full moon. Many will do good deeds, take part in chanting and meditation, reflect on Buddhist teachings, bring offerings to the temple, and share food with people.

Ready To Experience Buddha’s Birthday In Hong Kong? 

Celebrating Buddha’s Birthday is just one of the many festivities and traditions in Hong Kong, so I highly encourage you to go out there and find out more about what this Cantonese-speaking region has to offer. And if you’re looking to brush up on your Cantonese before visiting, you should totally try the Ling app! With its fun and bite-sized lessons, learning Cantonese with it is a piece of cake.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.