Mahayana New Year is celebrated this year on January 18 by Buddhists around the world. The term Mahayana encompasses Buddhist ideologies and philosophies. Mahayana is one of the two main branches of Buddhism and is mostly practiced in Northeast Asia — China, Japan, Tibet, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Korea. Each region has its own customs and traditions for practicing Mahayana Buddhism.
History of Mahayana New Year
In English, Mahayana means ‘Great Vehicle.’ This can be interpreted in different ways by devout followers of Buddhism. The Mahayana branch of the religion is practiced around the world.
The belief of Mahayana Buddhists is that enlightenment or eternal Nirvana can be achieved during the course of an individual’s life. This state of enlightenment is not only attainable by monks, but by regular Buddhist practitioners too. The ultimate goal is for everyone to make use of the opportunity of enlightenment.
The Mahayana New Year dates differ for each country based on their customs and traditions. While some Mahayana Buddhists observe the celebration on January 1 alongside the Gregorian New Year, others wait for the full moon of January. The celebration is marked with extensive prayer and honoring the Buddhism gods. Statues of the gods are also shown respect by bathing them. Temples are visited on the Buddhist New Year, and songs of spirituality are sung to the deities. Candles are also lit as a symbol of happiness and luck for the new year.
The Buddhist New Year is also a time for internalizing and self-reflection. Lessons from past mistakes are learned, and the goal is to become a better version of yourself. Good luck is also enhanced by cleaning and decorating homes and by buying gifts for others. The celebration is not a dull one, with grand feasts hosted and fireworks at midnight.
Mahayana New Year timeline
Buddha is born as Prince Siddharta Gautama, in Lumbini, Nepal.
Buddha gains enlightenment under a tree, at Bodh Gaya (Bihar, India).
Buddha attains nirvana (release from the cycle of rebirth) and passes away in a state of deep meditation.
During the reign of King Ashoka, a patron of Buddhism, Buddhism begins to spread throughout Asia.
Mahayana New Year FAQs
What is the Buddhist New Year called?
The Buddhist New Year has several names — it is also known as Mahayana New Year and Tibetan Buddhist New Year.
What date is the Buddhist New Year?
January 18, 2022
What is the Theravada New Year?
The Theravada New Year is a Buddhist festival that is celebrated on the first sighting of the full moon in April.
How to Observe Mahayana New Year
Praying to the gods
Buddhist followers honor their gods and pray to them for good luck and blessings for the new year.
Sing spiritual songs
Sing one of the many Buddhist songs as an expression of gratitude.
Have a feast
The Buddhist New Year celebration is incomplete without a feast. Indulge in your favorite foods with your family and friends, and count your blessings!
5 Facts About Buddhism That Everyone Should Know
Buddhists don’t use the word “Buddhism”
The word “Buddhism” was coined in the 1830s by Western scholars.
Buddhism has two main branches
Buddhism is a diverse religion with two main branches; Mahayana and Theravada.
Buddhism is growing fast
As of now, Buddhism is the fourth-largest growing religion in the world.
The concept of one God
Buddhism believes in achieving Nirvana, but not in one absolute creator.
Buddhism is not just a religion
Buddhism is broadly considered as psychology more than a religion.
Why Mahayana New Year is Important
A very important celebration
Mahayana New Year is as big as the Gregorian New Year. It is one of the many New Years’ celebrated over the year around the world!
A time for self-awareness and reflection
The celebration is a joyous one, but also one for self-reflection. Becoming self aware about one’s mistakes, and rectifying them to become an improved version of themselves.
Buddhism is a huge religion
Buddhism is vastly practiced by followers around the world. It is an important philosophy and its teachings have been practiced for thousands of years.
Mahayana New Year dates