Major Buddhist Holidays & Dates

Buddhist holidays tend to be celebrated on a lunar calendar and may differ according to sect and location. These celebrations most often follow events in the life of Buddha or various Boddhisattvas.

The following is a partial list of some of the major festivals and holy days for 2016:

  • 24 Jan 2016:  Mahayana New Year
  • 15 Feb 2016:  Nirvana Day
  • 23 Mar 2016: Magha Puja Day
  • 22 Apr 2016: Theravada New Year
  • 21 May 2016: Wesak / Vesak / Buddha Jayanti
  • 11 Jul 2016:  Obon
  • 19 Jul 2016:  Asalha Puja / Dharma Day
  • 16 Oct 2016:  Pavarana
  • 08 Dec 2016:  Bodhi Day

A Few of the Major Buddhist Holidays


  • Buddhist New Year: The date for this important holiday varies according to the sect. For instance, Theravada Buddhists in places such as Cambodia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka celebrate the New Year for three days, beginning with the day of the first full moon in April. Mahayanas, meanwhile, get festive during the first full moon in January. Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans normally celebrate the New Year in late January or early February, and Tibetan Buddhists celebrate in early March, as shown in the schedule above. 
  • Magha Puja: Magha Puja is an observance in honor of a time during Buddha’s teaching when 1,250 enlightened saints are said to have congregated all at the same place, Rajagaha, without scheduling it ahead of time. All were ordained by the Buddha. It was the first full moon day of the month Magha, or March. It is also known as Fourfold Assembly or Sagha Day. 
  • Vesak / Buddha Day: This is Buddha’s birthday celebration, called Vesak according to the month it’s celebrated in India, the birthplace of Buddhism. 
  • Pavarana: Pavarana Day marks the end of Vassa, the monastic retreat during the rains. In the month following, lay believers offer robes, cloth, and other necessities to the monks and nuns during a Kathina Ceremony. 
  • Asalha Puja Day: Asalha Puja Day, also called Dhamma Day, remembers Buddha’s first teaching on the turning of the wheel of the Dhamma in Deer Park, near Benares. The senior ascetic there, Kondanna, is said to have achieved the first level of enlightenment, known as Sotapanna.


Indian Public Holidays 2016


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