May 29 – Vesak in Indonesia and India

(Varying Dates)

Posted on May 29, 2018

There are many, many different religions practiced in the world - and many different versions of each of the major religions.

(Of course, a lot of people in the world practice no religion at all.)

Today I will discuss Vesak, an important holiday for many Buddhists, a holiday equivalent to Buddha's birthday celebration. But I will talk about this Buddhist holiday in two nations in which Buddhism is a minority:

  • Indonesia, in Southeast Asia, is 67% Muslim and less than one percent Buddhist. 
  • India, the birthplace of the Buddha and therefore the birthplace of Buddhism, is about 80% Hindu and - again - less than one percent Buddhist.

Why Indonesia and India, places that are dominated by other religions?

Because Vesak is celebrated on different dates in different nations and Buddhist communities. This year, many Vesak celebrations occur in April - but they are held in late May in Indonesia and India.

In India, Vesak is often celebrated by wearing white robes, visiting temples, listening to monks give talks or recite ancient stories, or pouring water over a statue of the Buddha.

In Indonesia, Vesak is celebrated with gatherings of monks who repeat mantras and meditate together. There is one ritual in which monks ask for charity. The best part of the day is the night - lol - when large lanterns are lit up and sent up into the sky!

Indonesia and India are both developing Asian nations, each with great potential and many resources, but each with problems as well. One of India's big resources is LOTS of people, and one of India's big problems is LOTS of people. Here are some comparison numbers:

India population: 1.3 billion
Indonesia population: 260 million

India population density: almost 400 people per square km
Indonesia population density: almost 140 people per square km

India Gross Domestic Product (Purchasing Power Parity): $10.4 trillion
Indonesia Gross Domestic Product (Purchasing Power Parity): $3.5 trillion

India GDP per capita (per person): almost $8,000
Indonesia GDP per capita: around $13,000

So...India's economy is much larger, but since it's population is much, much larger, Indonesians are more prosperous on average.

Here are some beautiful things to see in these two nations:

Lake Tiga Warna on Flores Island, Indonesia:

This is a weird place with three lakes of different colors!

Gurudongmar Lake in India:

This is one of the highest lakes in the world.

Green Canyon Pangandaran in Java, Indonesia:

Marble Rocks Canyon - Jabalpur, India:

Mount Bromo - an active volcano - in Indonesia:

Mount Shivling in India's Himalayas:

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, in Bali, Indonesia:

The Taj Majal in Agra, India:

Jakarta, capital of Indonesia:

Mumbai, largest city of India:

Prambanan, ruins of a Hindu temple complex in Indonesia:

Ellora ruins in India:

Also on this date:

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