Buddhism is a name given to religious traditions or Dharma, law. The law was given by Gautam Buddha in about 600B.C. Buddhism believes in the law of cause and effect and this cause and effect produces misery. Man in the grip of his karma (action) continues to move in the unending cycle of birth and rebirth.
Buddhism focuses on personal spiritual development. Buddhists strive for a deep insight into the true nature of life and do not worship gods or deities. They are tolerant of those whose beliefs are different from theirs.
It is 2500 years old with 350 million followers. Buddhism teaches compassion and believes that nothing is permanent and change is always possible.
According to the teachings of Buddha, there are four Noble Truths:
Dukha (all life is suffering)
Trsna (suffering is caused by craving)
Nirvana (to end suffering, you must end craving)
Suffering individuals have to follow the Eight-fold path.
The eightfold path consists of right view, right aim, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right contemplation. Buddhist temples come in many shapes. Perhaps the best known are the pagodas of China and Japan. Another typical Buddhist building is the Stupa, which is a stone structure built over what are thought to be relics of the Buddha, or over copies of the Buddha`s teachings. Buddha worship has many forms, as there are many schools of Buddhism.
Most Buddhists, with the exception of the Japanese, use the lunar calendar. The dates of Buddhist festivals and the way they are celebrated vary in Buddhist traditions and from country to country. Wesak, Dharma Day, Sangha Day, Parinirvana Day, Losar, Kathina are some of the celebrated Buddhist festivals.
Theravada Buddhism, the school of Buddhism found in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia, and in part of Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia celebrate the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha on one day, the first full moon day in May. Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, the school of Buddhism found in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and Vietnam celebrate festivals on a variety of dates. Japanese Buddhists have fixed the anniversaries of birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha in terms of Gregorian calendar. This celebration is called Wesak. World Fellowship of Buddhists has made a move to have Wesak day celebrated by Buddhists of all traditions, as Buddha Day, on the full moon day of May.