When I started writing my message for Vesak Day this year, it wasn’t easy. This is an unprecedented Vesak – we are unable to go to temples or celebrate with our loved ones.

I almost wrote my message along those subdued themes. Then I thought about the meaning of Vesak. It’s the celebration of the Birth, Enlightenment and the Parinibbana of the Buddha.
It is a joyous occasion.

So here is my Vesak Day message to everyone:

Have a very Happy Vesak.

Amidst our social distancing, our families remain apart but they remain safe. Even as we are anxious about Covid-19, our tireless frontlines remain stoic and devoted to caring for their patients. Seeing stories of people – regardless of race or religion – sending food and care packages to hospitals and the needy, our spirits are lifted.

And through it all, the Buddha’s Dhamma remains a shining light to guide us.

Vesak is a very important day to Buddhists. I know that many of our devotees – especially the children – are disappointed because they are not able to join the temple festivities this year, such as offering of flowers, lights and bathe the Buddha image in the temple. However, with some flowers, a small container and a pure mind, we can create the same experience for our young devotees at home. Perhaps this will even be a much-loved childhood memory because they set up this little exercise themselves, in their homes.

Joss sticks and incense can be lit at home and we can offer our home-grown flowers to the Buddha. We may miss congregating with our fellow devotees at the temple for large puja sessions, but we can have our own little puja in our homes. My wife and I will be arranging a Zoom puja session with my children and grandson as well – we will all wear white and this is something we are looking forward to.

For those who love the sense of camaraderie that comes with a big group puja, the Theravada Buddhist Council of Malaysia has arranged for an e-Vesak celebration. Join us online from your homes. Wear white if you can, clear your mind and we will celebrate Vesak Day, together.

I have no doubt that this Vesak Day celebration will be very different.

But I am just as certain, that if we remain thankful and mindful, this Vesak Day celebration will remain a very joyous one.

I wish you and your loved ones, a very Happy and Safe Vesak Day 2020.

Bro Tan Leng Huat
Theravada Buddhist Council of Malaysia