“I like to think that I celebrate Buddha’s birth every day, by being more present and more mindful. I am always trying to bring more Buddha into my life.” —Kim Erskine
This Saturday, May 14, is a very special holiday all around the world—Vesākha Day, or Vesak, the celebration of the birth of the Buddha over two thousand years ago. Vesak commemorates not just the Buddha’s birth, but his enlightenment and death as well. (Each of these important milestones in the Buddha’s life are said to have occurred on the same day of the year—roughly the first full moon of May.) But it’s known best as Buddha’s Birthday, and half a billion people worldwide show up to the party.
You don’t need to be a devout Buddhist to join in. At Mexicali Blues, we honor and learn from all cultures and traditions, and the wisdom and example of the Buddha speaks to us in many different ways. Whether it’s a moment of meditation or merriment, we find ways to join our friends in Nepal, India, Thailand and Indonesia in celebrating this very special day. And you can, too!
Celebrate the Buddha’s Birthday with Light
“If you light a lamp for someone, it will also brighten your path.”
Born Siddhārtha Gautama in Nepal, the Buddha was a privileged, pampered and protected young man who knew nothing of age, illness or poverty until he left his castle at age 29. His discovery of the hardships of life set off an internal struggle and the long meditation that led to his enlightenment—a realization of the Eightfold Path that lets us navigate life’s suffering.
So it’s no surprise that light is a common element in most celebrations of Versak. In Shanghai, monks hold candles during prayers. In South Korea, beautiful colored lanterns brighten the streets and temples. In Nepal, an enormous sacred “thangka” tapestry is unfurled in the light for the “Sunning Buddha Ritual.” In Sri Lanka, temples glow all night and in Java, monks light floating lanterns and release them to the skies.
At Mexicali Blues, we’re making sure to observe a sunrise or a sunset this weekend. We’re hanging colored lanterns inside and strings of lights on our patios and deck. And we’re lighting beautiful candles scented with jasmine or incense.
Celebrate the Buddha’s Birthday with Love
“Give, even if you only have a little.” —Buddha
Helping others is at the heart of the Buddha’s message. His teachings are one of the reasons we give 1% of all Mexicali proceeds to wonderful causes in Maine and all across the world. This Vesak, our hearts are with our friends in Nepal, the birthplace of the Buddha, where they are still struggling to rebuild after the terrible 2015 earthquakes. We’re making more donations to the critical relief work the country desperately needs, and we’re supporting the hard-hit Nepali economy by featuring our latest shipment of gorgeous handmade goods from Nepal in all our stores.
Celebrate the Buddha’s Birthday by Living in the Moment
“May all beings have happy minds.” —Buddha
The modern concept of mindfulness is inspired by the Buddhist sati, the seventh element of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. Sati originally meant “to remember,” and has been interpreted as being aware of feelings and events as they happen. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, relieve depression, enhance relationships and promote happiness and well-being.
At Mexicali Blues, we love to live in the moment. This Vesak, we’re practicing daily meditation or yoga. We’re shutting down our smartphones and logging off our personal social media accounts for a few hours. We’re sitting in our gardens noticing and appreciating the emergence of spring and noticing how wonderful it is to breathe in the fresh, warm air. We’re acknowledging the blessings of this life and offering gratitude for them all. No matter how you incorporate mindfulness into your life, it’s a gift to yourself and to others on the Buddha’s birthday.
Mexicali Blues wishes you peace and happiness on Buddha’s birthday—and always.