Buddhists across Asia mark Vesak with prayers, processions

May 11 (Reuters) - Buddhists across Asia commemorated the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha in Vesak celebrations this week.

This year, the United Nations held its special Vesak Day celebrations in Sri Lanka, where a colorful lantern festival was organized with moving light displays and stalls to hand out free food and drinks to visitors.

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Vesak celebrations commemorating Buddha
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Vesak celebrations commemorating Buddha
Young monks pictured during Vesak day celebration in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on May 10, 2017. Vesak day on the full-moon day of the sixth lunar month an annual celebration of Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death (Photo by Chris Jung/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
MAGELANG, INDONESIA - MAY 11: Latterns released by devotees and monks after Vesak Day ceremony at the Borobudur temple on May 10, 2017 in Magelang, Central Java Provine , Indonesia. Buddha's birthday, known as Vesak Day (or Wesak), is celebrated on various dates in the spring throughout the world, and each Buddhist culture has its own traditions for the day. It is usually observed during the first full moon in May. Photo by Ahmad Widi/Sijori ImgaesPHOTOGRAPH BY Sijori Images / Barcroft India London-T:+44 207 033 1031 E:hello@barcroftmedia.com - New York-T:+1 212 796 2458 E:hello@barcroftusa.com - New Delhi-T:+91 11 4053 2429 E:hello@barcroftindia.com www.barcroftimages.com (Photo credit should read Sijori Images / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL, INDIA - 2017/05/10: Buddhist devotee offers prayers at a Buddhist temple during the Buddha Purnima Festival to commemorate the 2561st birth anniversary of the Buddha at Maha Bodhi Society of India in Kolkata on May 10, 2017. Buddhist community of Kolkata observe 2561st birth anniversary of Buddha along with the other parts of world. (Photo by Saikat Paul/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Young monks pictured during Vesak day celebration in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on May 10, 2017. Vesak day on the full-moon day of the sixth lunar month an annual celebration of Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death (Photo by Chris Jung/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
This photograph taken on May 10, 2017, shows Indonesian Buddhists and local Muslims as they release lanterns into the air during Vesak celebrations at a Buddhist temple, Borobudur, in Central Java. Indonesian Buddhists together with those across the world are celebrating Vesak, which commemorates the birth of Buddha, his attaining enlightenment and his passing away on the full moon day of May which falls on May 10 this year. / AFP PHOTO / MUHAMMAD RAFI (Photo credit should read MUHAMMAD RAFI/AFP/Getty Images)
This photograph taken on May 10, 2017, shows lanterns as they fly into the air during Vesak celebration at Buddhist temple, Borobudur, in Central Java after being released by Indonesian Buddhists. Indonesian Buddhists together with those across the world are celebrating Vesak, which commemorates the birth of Buddha, his attaining enlightenment and his passing away on the full moon day of May which falls on May 10 this year. / AFP PHOTO / MUHAMMAD RAFI (Photo credit should read MUHAMMAD RAFI/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian Buddhist child Monk sleeping during the Buddha Purnima festival in Kolkata, India on Thursday, 11th May , 2017. (Photo by Sonali Pal Chaudhury/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Sri Lankan walks past a lightning installation, on the eve of the Buddhist festival of Vesak, on Colombo, on May 11, 2017. Sri Lankan Buddhists are preparing to celebrate Vesak, which commemorates the birth of Buddha, his attaining enlightenment and his passing away on the full moon day of May. / AFP PHOTO / Ishara S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Buddhist Lama children at 2561 BUDDHA JAYANTI Festival at Kolkata on May 11,2017,India. (Photo by Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
An illuminated view of Boudhanath Stupa during celebration the 2,561 Buddha Purnima festival, Birth Anniversary of Lord Gautam Buddha at Kathmandu on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. Buddhists around the world, Cambodia; Thailand; Myanmar; Bhutan; Sri Lanka; Laos; Mongolia; Japan; Singapore; Taiwan including Nepal, observe Buddha Purnima festival which falls on the same day of full moon of the month calendar. The occasion offerings of flower, incense and candles, an exchange of gifts as blessings, prayers, sermons and group meditations. (Photo by Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
MAGELANG, CENTRAL JAVA, INDONESIA - MAY 11: Buddhist followers pray after walk around the Borobudur temple during Pradaksina procession as a part of celebrations for Vesak Day on May 11, 2017 in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the Borobudur temple annually, which makes it the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia. It is observed during the full moon in May or June, with the ceremony centered at three Buddhist temples by walking from Mendut to Pawon and ending at Borobudur. The stages of life of Buddhism's founder, Gautama Buddha, which are celebrated at Vesak are his birth, enlightenment to Nirvana, and his passing (Parinirvana). (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
MAGELANG, CENTRAL JAVA, INDONESIA - MAY 11: The Borobudur temple seen illuminated during celebrations for Vesak Day on May 11, 2017 in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. Buddhists in Indonesia celebrate Vesak at the Borobudur temple annually, which makes it the most visited tourist attraction in Indonesia. It is observed during the full moon in May or June, with the ceremony centered at three Buddhist temples by walking from Mendut to Pawon and ending at Borobudur. The stages of life of Buddhism's founder, Gautama Buddha, which are celebrated at Vesak are his birth, enlightenment to Nirvana, and his passing (Parinirvana). (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
A boy hangs Vesak buckets on a tree, at a house, during the birth anniversary of Buddha, also known as Vesak Day, in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A devotee (unseen) sprinkles rice grains as part of the rituals on the idol of Buddha during the birth anniversary of Buddha, also known as Vesak Day, at Swayambhu in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Buddhist monks walk down a road asking for alms during the annual Vesak festival, in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Buddhist monks walk down a road asking for alms during the annual Vesak festival, in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Buddhist monks walk down a road asking for alms during the annual Vesak festival, in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
A hand of a devotee is pictured as she offers butter lamps during the birth anniversary of Buddha, also known as Vesak Day, at Swayambhu in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Buddhists carry candles while encircling a large Buddha statue during Vesak Day, an annual celebration of Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death, at a temple in Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom
A girl offers prayers inside a Buddhist temple on the occasion of Buddha Purnima festival, also known as Vesak Day, in Agartala, India, May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey
Hindu devotees take a holy dip in the Ganges river on the occasion of Buddha purnima festival, also known as Vesak day, in Allahabad, India, May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash
A monk carries an idol of Buddha at a temple on the occasion of the Buddha Purnima festival, also known as Vesak Day, in Agartala, India, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey
A man picks up statues of Buddha one by one, ahead of Vesak Day celebrations, which is Sri Lankan Buddhists' commemoration of the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha, in Colombo, Sri Lanka May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
A woman kneels in front of a Buddhist monk at the Marble Temple or Wat Benchamabophit during the Buddhist celebration of Vesak in Bangkok, Thailand May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
Buddhist monks prostrate as they perform the "three steps one bow" ceremony at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery on the eve of Vesak Day in Singapore May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su
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"This has given the opportunity not only to Buddhists, but all the people of the country to showcase how we celebrate Vesak in this country," said Jagath Sumathipala, vice president of the World Buddhist Congress.

In other countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Nepal, Buddhists lit candles and butter lamps while offering prayers at temples and shrines.

In Singapore, monks and devotees took part in a procession in which they prostrated themselves on the ground after every three steps, while in India, people dipped themselves in the Ganges river.

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Karishma Singh)

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