The full moon of the first month of the Nepali calendar year, Vaisakh, is celebrated as the birthday of Nepal’s most famous son, the Buddha.
This year the festival fell on May 9th, when the great Buddhist temples of Swayambhu and Baudha hosted thousands of devotees. Adorned with new prayer flags and lit by thousands of butter lamps, the ancient stupas had a festive atmosphere enjoyed by all.
The occasion is a national holiday in many Asian countries, and millions of adherents abstain from meat and alcohol on this special day.
This year marks the 2553rd anniversary of Buddha’s birth at Lumbini, in Nepal’s borderlands with India. His philosophy and teaching has gained respect as one of the world’s great faiths and his message of peace and tolerance seems ever more relevant in this constantly changing world.