Magelang, Indonesia, May 31, 2007For these Indonesian monks, the most recent full moon wasn't a time to fear—but rather the holiest time of the year.
The monks are seen preparing to celebrate Waisak—Buddha's birthday—on the Indonesian island of Java. The event, which actually honors the birth, death, and enlightenment of Buddha, occurs during the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar and is a public holiday in much of Southeast Asia. Participating countries had a choice this year, since both May 1 and May 31 were full moons.
During the event, believers assemble at temples to raise flags, sing hymns, make offerings, and reaffirm their vows. Donating time for volunteer projects, giving money to the needy, and observing stricter religious proscriptions are also parts of the ceremonies.