In the Chinese speaking countries of Hongkong, China, as well as Taiwan, the Vesak Day called Guanfo (bathing the Buddha) or Yufo (Buddha?s birthday celebration featuring washing Buddha image with perfumed water). The celebrations begin before sunrise and devotees throng the temples early at dawn to meditate. Chanshi (the ceremony of chanting the sutras and confession and prayer) is practiced by monks.
As the day progresses, Buddhist devotees visit orphanages, welfare homes, homes for the aged and charitable institutions to distribute cash donations and gifts to the needy. On this occasion, caged birds are freed to symbolize humanity and compassion.
The celebration is also marked with the devotees performing the ?bathing Buddha? ritual where they held a wooden ladle and poured water over a small statue of the Buddha. Bathing a statue of the Buddha symbolizes a fresh start in life and the care given to newborn babies.
Legend has it that when the historical Buddha, Prince Siddhartha, was born, there were auspicious signs heralding his birth. They describe the sky as blue and clear on his birth, with dragons spurting purified water to bathe him. Since then, Buddhists have celebrated his birthday by using fragrant water to bathe the image of Buddha.
In these East Asia countries, Buddha?s birthday is celebrated in on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. Thus in 2013, the Buddha birthday falls on 25/26 May 2013.