Buddhists around the world have celebrated Vesak, one of the most important days in the Buddhist calendar. Informally known as Buddha's Birthday, it commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama.

Buddhist scriptures state that each of these significant events occurred on the full moon of the Indian lunar month of Vesakha.

In Indonesia, celebrations were focused on the ancient Borobudur temple. Thousands of Buddhist monks gathered to meditate and circuit the temple in a ritual called "Pradaksina".

vesak day indonesia
Buddhist monks walk around Borobudur temple as sky lanterns are releasedOscar Siagian/Getty Images
vesak day indonesia
Buddhist monks pray at Borobudur temple in Magelang, IndonesiaOscar Siagian/Getty Images
vesak day indonesia
Buddhists in traditional costume celebrate Vesak Day by walking from Mendut to Pawon and ending at BorobudurOscar Siagian/Getty Images
vesak day indonesia
A Buddha statue is illuminated at Borobudur temple for Vesak Day. The statue is decorated with a swastika – an ancient symbol signifying good fortune as well as the Buddha's heartOscar Siagian/Getty Images
vesak day indonesia
Buddhist monks release sky lanterns after prayer at Borobudur templeOscar Siagian/Getty Images

Borobudur, built in the 9th century, is the world's largest Buddhist temple and a Unesco World Heritage Site. The temple is situated on a remote hilltop in Central Java surrounded by lush jungle and ringed by volcanoes, one of which – Mount Kelud – is still active.

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Borobudur, built during the 9th century, is the world's largest Buddhist templeUlet Ifansasti/Getty Images
vesak day indonesia
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Soldiers and volunteers are pictured covering the stupas of Borobudur temple to prevent ash from Mount Kelud from damaging them during its eruption in February 2014Dwi Oblo/Reuters

The temple is decorated with nearly 3,000 bas-relief sculptures illustrating the life and teachings of Buddha, as well as more than 504 statues of Buddha, 72 of which surround the main dome of the top of the temple.

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One of the temple's 72 Buddha statues is seated inside a perforated stupaUlet Ifansasti/Getty Images
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Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

The temple was abandoned for unknown reasons by the 1500s, possibly because of volcanic eruptions. It lay hidden for centuries under layers of volcanic ash and jungle growth until the British arrived in 1811. Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, British governor of Java, heard about a huge monument in the jungle and had the site excavated. Work carried on under Dutch administration, and the complex was finally unearthed by 1835.

Borobudur has undergone several restorations, notably in the early 1900s and the late 1970s. It is now Indonesia's most visited tourist attraction.

vesak day indonesia
Left: Borobudur temple in 1872. Right: The temple in 1911, after restorationRoyal Tropical Institute
vesak day indonesia
Stone masons are pictured carrying out restoration work on Borobudur temple in 2007Dwi Oblo/Reuters