This national holiday in Hong Kong celebrates the birthday of Buddha and also goes by other names such as Lord Buddha’s Birthday and the Buddha Bathing Festival.
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Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, during April in the Gregorian calendar. It has been observed as a holiday in Hong Kong since Britain returned to rule of Hong Kong to China in 1997.
In Hong Kong, devotees of Buddha visit temples especially the great Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. This monastery is about one-and-a-half hours from Hong Kong and is accessible by car as well as serviced buses, cable cars and ferries. People also pay homage at the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery at Sha Tin – which is not really a monastery as there are no resident monks.
Po Lin Monastery holds the world’s tallest, outdoor, seated, bronze Buddha statue, and this makes it a destination for followers and also a major tourist attraction.
The key ceremony across much of Buddhism on this day is the bathing of small statues of Buddha to honour of the belief that, as a baby, Buddha’s body was sprayed with water from nine dragons.
Hong Kong also holds other events on this holiday. The Cheung Chau Bun Festival of Floating Colours has its origins in a ritual held to protect fishermen from pirates. This festival lasts for seven days and includes, on Buddha’s Birthday, a parade of floats and musicians and is held on the island of Cheung Chau.
Buddha’s Birthday is a public holiday but tourist attractions, restaurants, public transport and shops will all be open and operating. There will be large crowds everywhere so be sure to plan well ahead.