About Buddha Purnima Festival
Buddha Purnima festival is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Buddha. It also commemorates his enlightenment and death. It’s the most sacred Buddhist festival. Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti is celebrated with traditional religious fervor. Buddha Purnima is a famous festival celebrated by the Buddhist people group in west bengal. It is the most important festival of the Buddhists, and is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Devotees gather on this day and remember the teachings on compassion and non-violence that Buddha espoused. During Buddha Purnima, dharma wheel symbol is commonly seen, which is also known as dharma chakra. The wheel has eight ribs, representing the great teachings of Gautam Buddha. On this occasion of Buddha Jayanti, a large fair is held at Sarnath and the relics of the Buddha are taken out for public display in a procession. The Buddha Purnima celebrations at Sarnath attract large Buddhist crowds as Buddhists offer prayers in different Buddhist temples at Sarnath on this day.
When it is celebrated
Buddha Purnima falls on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Vaisakh (April/May). Lord Buddha was born on the Full Moon day in the month of Vaisakh in 563 BC. In leap years it may be celebrated in June.
Where it is celebrated
In India, Buddha Purnima is a gazetted occasion in different states, including Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar. Widespread celebrations are there in major Buddhist areas such as Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Sikkim. Besides Sarnath, the Buddha Purnima is also celebrated with religious fervor at Gaya and Kushinagar and other parts of India and the world.
Gautama Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha and was a great sage from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings the Buddhism religion is based. It is supposed that Buddha took birth somewhere between fourth and sixth centuries BC. The World Fellowship of Buddhists formalized the decision to commemorate the Buddha’s birthday on Vesakh, at its first conference. This conference was organized in the month of May in 1960 and the venue was Colombo, Sri Lanka. The full moon day of May was fixed as Buddha Purnima.
This day commemorates birth, death and the enlightenment of Lord Buddha. It was after this great enlightenment that he earned the name Gautama Buddha. He was just 29-years old when he sought out to find answers to his questions about life and left his royal life and married life behind. Through his years on earth, he imparted his hard-earned knowledge to several followers, and whoever was ready to listen to him.
The Buddhist people group makes a visit to sanctuaries on the celebration day so as to tune in to priests give talks. They spend the whole day in sanctuaries. A couple of sanctuaries display a little statue of Buddha. They will put the statue in a bowl possessed with water. The general population who visit sanctuaries empty water over the statue. This means the start of something. Buddhists pay special attention to Buddha’s teachings Buddha Jayanti. They give money, food or goods to organizations that help the poor, elderly, and those who are sick. Caged animals are bought and set free to show care for all living creatures, as preached by Buddha. The usual dress is pure white. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is also commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge.
There are many activities performed to commemorate the birth of Buddha. These activities include prayer meets, recital of Buddhist scriptures, religious discussions and sermons, group meditations, and worshipping of the Buddha’s idol. Many Buddhists visit temples on Vesak to listen to monks give talks and recite ancient verses. The teachings of Buddha are given special attention on this sanctified festival. The Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya puts on a celebratory look on the day of Buddha Purnima. This temple is beautified with hued decorations. There are also held special prayers under the Bodhi Tree, under which Gautama Buddha took enlightenment. The holy remains of Lord Buddha are open for public viewing by the National Museum in Delhi.
Buddha Purnima is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools, government offices, banks and most businesses are closed.
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