The first sub-religion is Theravada Buddhism; it is a smaller more tradition view of Buddhism. Majority of Buddhists are apart of the Mahayana Buddhism religion. Also, Zen is an adaption of Mahayana developed by the Japanese. Lastly, Vajrayana Buddhism it was developed in Tibet and Mongolia.
Theravada Buddhism: in their beliefs only monks and nuns can make up this sangha (a word in Pali and Sanskrit meaning "association", "assembly," "company" or "community"). They are the only ones who can reach enlightenment. Others can gain merit by following the teachings of Buddha. An ideal figure is a monk who is saintly and close to achieving enlightenment, though they reject the idea of heavenly figures. Theravada Buddhists take seriously the last words of Buddha, “work out your own salvation with diligence”. Buddha is not divine, he is an enlightened human being.
They believe in the Tripitakas, three baskets, which are often called the first Buddhist scriptures. The three baskets are: Vinaya Pitaka- rules of conduct for monks and nuns; Sulta Pitaka- a large collection of the Buddha’s teachings; Abhidhamma Pitaka- explanations of the Buddhists view on laws of nature and the mind.
Mahayana Buddhism: this sangha includes all followers of Buddha, not just monks and nuns, and anyone can achieve enlightenment. The ideal is the bodhisattvas. These are people who have achieved enlightenment but have chosen to stay on the human plane of existence, suffering, death, and rebirth. They have a calling to teach and heal people on their journey through life. They follow the Tripitakas, and the Lotus Sutra. Mahayana Buddhists use stories that are both humorous and instructional called Jataka’s.
Vajrayana Buddhism: developed in Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan, and Nepal, Vajrayana Buddhism was the third sub-religion developed later on. They use elements of their own local religion into their own personal beliefs. This results in a unique set of spiritual acts, such as meditation, chanting, and prayer.
There are many special and holy days celebrated through the year by the Buddhist community. Vesak or Visakah Puja, meaning “Buddha Day” is celebrated on the first full moon in May, except on leap years it is held in June. Vesak is a major Buddhist festival as it celebrates the birthday of Buddha. It is one of the most important days of the Buddhist year as it celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. Asalha Puja Day, “Dhamma Day”, means to pay homage to the Buddha on the full moon day of the 8th lunar month (approximately July). It commemorates the Buddha's first teaching: the turning of the wheel of the Dhamma.
There are many symbols that represent Buddhism. Dharma Wheel or Dharmacharka symbolizes the Wheel of Buddhist Law, it is an endless cycle of birth and rebirth. Next, the Lotuses are symbols of purity and spontaneous generation, symbolizing divine birth. According to the Lalitavistara, ‘the spirit of the best of…