Indians celebrate a lot of different festivals in a year and Buddha Purnima is one of the greatest and most significant ones among them. People nowadays celebrate every festival with zeal and enthusiasm but don’t know the importance of those festivals. So, this Buddha Purnima, not only celebrate it with your family and friends but also read this article to know the importance of Buddha Purnima.
Buddha Purnima is an Asian festival celebrated according to the traditional Hindu calendar and Buddhist calendar. It holds immense religious significance for the followers of Buddhism as it commemorates the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha. This year, it falls on May 16.
To learn what Buddha Purnima is and why Buddha Purnima is celebrated, continue reading the article.
Gautam Buddha born ‘Siddhartha Gautama’, according to legend, was a Hindu prince who left his kingdom to seek spiritual enlightenment, and in the process founded Buddhism in India in the 6th-5th centuries BCE. Lord Budhha was an extraordinary human, a seeker who attained enlightenment through meditation and wisdom, and then set out to preach his learnings to the people. In Hinduism, Lord Buddha is considered the ninth avatar (reincarnation) of Lord Vishnu.
A philosopher, religious leader, spiritual guide, and enlightened being, Lord Buddha is known for preaching Dharma (duty), non-violence, peace and kindness. At the age of 30, he gave up his worldly possessions and suffered hardships searching for the truth and seeking penance in the hopes of liberating himself from suffering.
Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti, also known as Vesak or Vaisakhi Buddha Purnima, is an auspicious day that marks three significant events in the life of Gautam Buddha - his birth anniversary, enlightenment, and death.
According to the traditional Hindu calendar, Buddha Purnima is observed on the Purnima (full moon day) in the month of Vaisakh. However, as per the Buddhist calendar, there are two full moon days in the month of May, and the Buddha Purnima can be celebrated on any of these two days. So, people in different parts of the world celebrate the festival on two different dates.
As per the Gregorian calendar, the day falls on May 16 and May 19 this year. But why is Buddha Purnima celebrated on this particular day?
It is because it is said that Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born on the Purnima Tithi (full moon day) in 563 BC in Lumbini Grove (modern-day Nepal). After six years of renouncing his position as a Prince and facing hardships, he attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya to become Gautama Buddha, which was also the full moon day of May. The seeker, after 45 years of preaching his Truth, passed away at the age of eighty at Kusinara - on the full moon day of May.
Buddha Purnima 2022 is commemorated by Buddhists and Hindus all over the world, particularly in the Asian countries of India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Bhutan, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia Laos, Vietnam, and Mongolia; however, each country has its own way of celebrating Buddha Purnima.
On Buddha Purnima, Buddhists and followers of Buddhism across the world devote themselves to praying, fasting, meditating, and recalling the teachings of Lord Buddha. In the wake of Buddha Purnima, the Buddhist monasteries, houses, and temples are all flamboyantly decorated with garlands and colourful flags.
The popular ceremony includes worshipping the statue of Baby Buddha as it marks a new beginning. In India, people traditionally take dips in the holy river Ganga to wash away their sins. They also visit the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya to pray.
In China, people observe the festival by visiting pagodas and lighting incense, candles, and lanterns, while the Japanese celebrate the day with flowers and organise ‘Hanamatsuri’ (Flower Festival) where Buddha statues are decorated with flowers and bathed with a special flower juice. Buddhists in South Korea give out free food and light up lotus lanterns to mark the auspicious day.
Not all Buddhists worship the idols or effigies of Lord Buddha as there are different sects of the religion. They are not worshipped by all sects.
The Dharma Chakra (wheel), the eight-spoke sacred wooden wheel, which is the symbol of Vesak, represents enlightenment and Buddha’s eight-fold teaching.
Along with Lord Buddha, his wife Yashodhara, his first disciple Ananda, his charioteer Channa, his horse Kantaka, and the Bodhi Tree are also believed to be born on the same day of Buddha Purnima.
Buddha Purnima was formally announced as a festival at the first conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists held in Sri Lanka in 1950.
By reading this article you have gained enough knowledge of what is Buddha Purnima and what things to do on Buddha Purnima, and now you are ready to delve into the Buddha Purnima 2022 celebrations!
Buddhism teaches a way of life, so even if you are not a follower of Lord Buddha, you can still read about his teachings on wisdom, truth, and discipline. Just keep an open mind. So, this year, along with celebrating the festival, everyone must ponder upon the teaching of Lord Buddha and try to inculcate those values in their lives. It will surely help make a positive difference in society as a whole.