Vesak Day – A Lighting Celebration You Shouldn’t Miss

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Welcome to Vesak Day in Indonesia, a radiant celebration where the release of thousands of sky lanterns symbolizes enlightenment and hope.

 

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Festival highlights

About Vesak Day

Considered as one of the most sacred days in the Buddhist calendar, Vesak Day is a celebration that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. Observed on the full moon day in May, this spiritual occasion gathers devotees and enthusiasts to honor the profound moments in Buddha’s life. 

The focal point of Vesak Day unfolds at Borobudur in Java, Indonesia, where pilgrims embark on a spiritual journey.As the sun sets, turning Borobudur into a serene sanctuary, monks lead rituals that pay homage to Buddha’s teachings. 

The pinnacle of the celebration is marked by the release of the lanterns, illuminating the night sky. Each lantern carries prayers and hopes, symbolizing enlightenment and the release of negativity. This awe-inspiring tradition unites tourists and devotees in a collective act of celebration, fostering renewal and a deepened spiritual connection on Vesak Day at Borobudur temple.

Festival Dates (2024)

Vesak Day unfolds on the 15th day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, aligning with the full moon day in May or June in the Gregorian calendar. 

For 2024, Vesak Day will be observed on Thursday, May 23. This auspicious date marks a significant moment in the Buddhist calendar, encapsulating the birth, enlightenment, and passing of Buddha. On this date, devotees and participants partake in the spiritual festivities and the symbolic release of sky lanterns, illuminating the night sky with prayers and aspirations.

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An image inspired by Vesak Day in Indonesia

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The largest celebration of Vesak Day unfolds at the iconic Borobudur temple,  which is situated in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. This ancient temple, with its rich cultural and spiritual significance, serves as the central hub for devotees and enthusiasts to come together and commemorate the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha in a grand and festive manner. It is in this temple that the release of the magnificent sky lanterns can be witnessed and experienced. 

Located approximately 40 kilometers northwest of Borobudur, the nearest airport is Adisutjipto International Airport (JOG) in Yogyakarta. Visitors can easily access the celebration site through  these various transportation options:

  • By Car: Travelers can hire a taxi or use rideshare services for a convenient and direct journey to Borobudur from the airport.
  • Public Transportation: Buses and shuttle services are available for those seeking a cost-effective means of reaching the festival location.
  • Private Tours: Many tour operators offer guided excursions, providing an informative and hassle-free experience for attendees navigating from the airport to the Borobudur temple.

If you liked this festival, you might want to check out these captivating lantern festivals as well:

Pingxi Lantern Festival

Full Moon Lantern Festival

Festival Hours

Vesak Day unfolds as an all-encompassing, day-long event teeming with spiritual activities and cultural festivities. From dawn until dusk, devotees and visitors immerse themselves in ceremonies and rituals, paying homage to the life and teachings of Buddha. 

The breathtaking release of the lanterns, however,  takes center stage at around 11:00 PM. As the clock strikes this hour, the night sky over Borobudur temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia, becomes adorned with the glowing ascent of thousands of sky lanterns, marking the culmination of Vesak Day with a luminous spectacle that echoes the enlightenment and unity celebrated throughout the day.

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An image inspired from the sky lanterns release during Vesak Day

How Much Does It Cost to Experience Vesak Day

As of now, the ticket prices for Vesak Day celebrations in 2024 are yet to be announced. However, to provide you with an idea of what to expect, the entrance fee for the Vesak Day Celebration in 2023 was IDR 300,000, which is about $19.16. This fee included a lantern to be released into the sky.  

It’s also important to note that the above cost did not cover the entrance to the Borobudur Temple area, which requires  visitors to purchase an additional ticket for entry. 

For the latest update on entrance fee and ticket prices, stay tuned for more information.

Weather and What to Wear

May in Central Java, Indonesia, ushers in a warm and tropical climate, offering pleasant conditions for Vesak Day festivities at the Borobudur temple. Average temperatures range from 24°C to 32°C (75°F to 89°F), providing a comfortable environment for attendees to engage in the day-long celebrations. 

However, as the festival extends into the evening for the mesmerizing lantern release, temperatures may slightly drop, creating a cooler ambiance.

To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience during Vesak Day, visitors are recommended to wear:

  • Light and breathable clothing to combat the daytime warmth.
  • A light jacket or shawl for the cooler evening temperatures.
  • Comfortable and sturdy footwear suitable for walking and exploring the temple grounds.
  • Sunscreen and a hat for protection against the tropical sun during the daytime events.
  • Insect repellent to ward off any mosquitoes during the evening lantern release.

Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby

For those seeking a comfortable retreat during the Vesak Day festivities, here are some nearby hotels that offer a blend of convenience and luxury.

Atria Hotel Magelang

  • Location: Jl. Jend. Sudirman No.42, Tidar Sel., Kec. Magelang Sel., Kota Magelang, Jawa Tengah 56125, Indonesia
  • Description: A 4-star hotel offering a central location for easy access to the Vesak Day celebrations, providing a blend of comfort and modern amenities.
  • Amenities: Free parking and complimentary breakfast.

Puri Asri Magelang Hotel & Resort

  • Location: Jl. Cemp. No.9, Kemirirejo, Kec. Magelang Tengah, Kota Magelang, Jawa Tengah 56127, Indonesia
  • Description: A 5-star hotel and resort nestled in a serene setting, providing a luxurious retreat with an outdoor pool.
  • Amenities: Free parking and an inviting outdoor pool for relaxation.

Grand Artos Hotel & Convention

  • Location: Jl. Mayjen Bambang Soegeng No.1, Kedungdowo, Mertoyudan, Kec. Mertoyudan, Kabupaten Magelang, Jawa Tengah 56172, Indonesia
  • Description: A 4-star hotel boasting a convenient location and modern facilities, including a fitness center.
  • Amenities: Fitness center and free parking for the convenience of guests.

Where to Eat

Indulge your palate in the culinary delights surrounding the Vesak Day celebrations at these noteworthy dining spots.

Pringgondani Restaurant

  • Location: Puri Asri Magelang Hotel & Resort
  • Description: A buffet restaurant situated within the hotel, Pringgondani offers a delightful dining experience with outdoor seating and Wi-Fi.
  • Foods Served: Singapore Fried Rice, Chicken Katsu with Tonkatsu sauce, and a variety of other delectable options.

Pakelan Restaurant

  • Location: Jl. Mayor Human No.6, Kedungingas, Bulurejo, Kec. Mertoyudan, Kabupaten Magelang, Jawa Tengah 56172, Indonesia
  • Description: A seafood haven located at a picturesque spot, Pakelan Restaurant provides outdoor seating and a kids’ menu.
  • Foods Served: Noodle and vegetable dishes, along with an array of sumptuous seafood options.

Garden Steak

  • Location: Jl. Tentara Pelajar No.39 a, Kemirirejo, Kec. Magelang Tengah, Kota Magelang, Jawa Tengah 56122, Indonesia
  • Description: A steakhouse with a charming outdoor setting, Garden Steak caters to all ages with a kids’ menu.
  • Foods Served: Grilled Beef Mushroom, Double Crispy Chicken, and other mouthwatering steakhouse specialties.

More Things to Do in the Area

Beyond the enchanting Vesak Day festivities, discover additional treasures in the surrounding area with a variety of activities to captivate your senses.

Borobudur Temple

  • Location: Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia
  • Description: A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur is a marvel of ancient architecture surrounded by lush landscapes.
  • Activities:
    • Explore the intricately carved reliefs and stupas that narrate Buddhist teachings.
    • Witness the stunning sunrise or sunset views from the temple.

Senopati Garden

  • Location: Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia
  • Description: A picturesque garden offering a serene retreat, Senopati Garden is a haven for nature lovers seeking tranquility.
  • Activities:
    • Stroll through beautifully landscaped gardens with vibrant flowers and shaded pathways.
    • Enjoy a peaceful picnic surrounded by the lush greenery.

Tidar Hill

  • Location: Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia
  • Description: A scenic hill providing panoramic views of Magelang, Tidar Hill is a perfect spot for those seeking both adventure and breathtaking landscapes.
  • Activities:
    • Hike to the hill’s summit to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding areas.
    • Capture stunning photographs of the landscape and the city below.

An Enlightening Conclusion: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Experience at Vesak Day

In essence, Vesak Day in Indonesia is a profound celebration that transcends the boundaries of religion, uniting people in the spirit of peace, enlightenment, and cultural reverence. Amid the enchanting festivities at Borobudur temple, devotees and visitors alike find solace in commemorating the life and teachings of Buddha. 

The release of thousands of sky lanterns adds a celestial touch to the occasion, symbolizing the enlightenment that resonates through the ages. As Vesak Day unfolds, it not only honors a sacred journey but also invites participants to embrace the collective quest for spiritual harmony and cultural richness in the heart of Central Java.

FAQ

Is there designated parking available for Vesak Day celebrations?

Yes, designated parking areas are typically arranged near the festival venue. It’s advisable to check for any specific guidelines or restrictions related to parking closer to the event date.

Can visitors bring pets to the Vesak Day festivities at Borobudur temple?

No, pets are generally not allowed within the temple premises during the Vesak Day celebrations to ensure a peaceful and orderly environment.

Are there restrictions on smoking during Vesak Day events?

Yes, smoking is often prohibited in the festival area and the temple grounds to maintain a respectful and clean atmosphere during the sacred ceremonies.

Is there an entrance fee for the Vesak Day celebrations at Borobudur temple?

While the Vesak Day celebrations may have specific events or areas that are free, there might be separate entrance fees for the Borobudur temple itself. It’s recommended to check for any updated fee information closer to the event.

Are there specific dress code guidelines for Vesak Day?

While there may not be a strict dress code, it’s advisable to wear modest and comfortable clothing out of respect for the spiritual nature of the event.

Can visitors participate in the lantern release during Vesak Day?

Yes, many festivals allow visitors to actively participate in the symbolic lantern release, fostering a sense of unity and collective celebration.

Are there restrictions on bringing outside food and beverages to the Vesak Day events?

In general, it’s best to enjoy the local culinary offerings available at the festival. Outside food and beverages may have restrictions to ensure cleanliness and safety.

What is the best time to arrive for the Vesak Day celebrations at Borobudur temple?

It is recommended to arrive early, especially if you plan to witness the sunrise or sunset events, as these moments offer breathtaking views and are popular among attendees.

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An image inspired by Vesak Day in Indonesia

Sources:

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202205/1265836.shtml 

https://english.news.cn/20230608/7b9767e328324dda9e1dc71fc544a9bb/c.html 

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