Buddha Purnima is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm in India as well as across the world. It is celebrated every year on the first Purnima (full moon) of the month of Vaisakh (April/May). This year Buddha Purnima will be celebrated on 5th, May 2023 Friday. Buddha Purnima marks the birth anniversary of Prince Siddhartha Gautama and his birth, enlightenment, incarnation and death. Buddha Purnima is also known as Buddha Jayanti or Vesak. Apart from India, it is also celebrated in Sri Lanka, Korea, Nepal and many other countries. Devotees follow many rituals on this day as well as go to Buddhist monasteries, do charity etc.
Every year the date of Buddha Purnima varies according to the lunisolar and Georgian calendars. But it usually falls in the month of April or May, and in a leap year, it falls in June. Although according to the Hindu and Buddhist calendars, April or May is the month of Vesak; hence Buddha Purnima is also celebrated as a part of Vaisak. According to those who belong to the Theravada tradition and follow the Buddhist calendar, the full moon usually falls on the 5th or 6th of Vaisakh (May/April). So this year, Buddha Purnima will be celebrated on Friday 5th, May in India and Nepal and on the 19th of May in Eastern Asian countries. It varies with two dates because there are two full moons in May. As per the Buddhist calendar, the full moon day of Vesak is one of the most important days.
Buddha Purnima is also known as Buddha Jayanti, as the festival marks the birth anniversary of Prince Siddhartha Gautama. It is also believed that Buddha was the 9th incarnation of lord Vishnu. Buddha Purnima is also celebrated as a thrice blessed day for the events that took place in the life of Buddha. From his birth in 563 BC in Lumbini (Nepal) to his attaining enlightenment in Bodh Gaya and entering Mahapranirvana in Kushinagar. In May 1960, the World Fellowship of Buddhists decided to celebrate Buddha Jayanti on the first full moon day (Purnima) in the month of Vaishakh.
Buddha Purnima is mostly observed by Buddhists. It is intensely celebrated in South Asian countries, including India, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Bhutan and in Eastern Asian countries including Thailand, Tibet, China, Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia and Indonesia. Talking about India, a great fair is organised in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh. Sarnath is where Buddha delivered his first sermon after enlightenment and is also a major Buddhist pilgrimage centre in India. In India, Bangladesh and Nepal, it is known as Buddha Jayanti or Vesak, Hanamatsuri in Japan, Seokka Tanshin-il in Korea, Phat Dan in Vietnamese, Saga Dawa in Tibetan, Vesak Bochea in Cambodia. In Thailand, it is called Visakha Bucha or Visakha Puja, Waisak in Indonesia, in Sri Lanka, it is known as Vesak or Wesak, Hari Wesak in Malaysia, Voxakha Bouxa in Laos, Kasone la Pyae in Myanmar and Fo Dan in Mandarin.
On this auspicious day of Buddha Purnima, devotees visit temples, light candles and incense sticks, offer sweets and fruits and worship the idol of Lord Buddha. A woman named Sujata is said to have offered a bowl of kheer (milk porridge) to the Buddha on this day. Thus, Kheer is specially offered to Lord Buddha and later distributed among all as Prasad. The followers of Lord Buddha preach the life and teachings of Buddha to the devotees, and it is attended by a large number of people from all over. On this day, people usually wear white clothes and do not consume non-vegetarian food. People also free birds on this day from cages symbolising empathy and compassion as essentials for every living being, one of the important teachings of the Buddha. In many places, processions are also brought out where the idol of Buddha is carried. Viharas are decorated as well as people also decorate their homes on this special day. In many Buddhist monasteries, an idol of lord Buddha is kept in a small basin filled with water and decorated with water and flowers. Devotees pour water on the statue of Buddha, which marks the symbolic event when the gods gave him heavenly offerings. They also follow sila (moral vows) and practice meditation (samadhi) in the Bhikku Sangha. Charity is also observed on this day and people distribute food, medicines, fruits, milk, biscuits, bread and nutrition to the poor and needy people. In every Buddhist monastery, monks recite or chant sutta or sutras of Buddha to bless with peace, happiness, love, compassion, unity, brotherhood, well-being and prosperity among everyone.
Buddha Purnima is also known as Vaisak, as the festival is celebrated on the first full moon day of Vaishakh (April or May) according to the lunar calendar. Buddha Purnima marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. At a very young age, Siddhartha became Gautama Buddha, where he started preaching the Dharma as well as imparting knowledge to the people. Buddha Purnima holds immense significance in Buddhism, where the birth, enlightenment and salvation of Lord Buddha took place on this day. On this day, devotees wear white clothes as a symbol of purity and visit Buddhist temples, recite hymns, and chant the sermons of lord Buddha's teachings and principles. Flowers, candles, incense sticks and water are also offered to the Buddha’s idol. Devotees abstain from non-vegetarian food, and kheer is also distributed as prasad on this day. To witness the best Buddha Purnima in India, a person can visit Sarnath, Bodhgaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Sikkim. It is one of the major festivals for the Buddhist people across the globe and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervour.
That’s all about Buddha Purnima or Vesak festival. We hope you enjoyed reading the article and getting to know everything about this auspicious festival. We wish you a very happy Buddha Purnima. May lord Buddha bless you with peace, purity and love. If you have any thoughts or queries, please share your feedback in the comments section below.
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