India is a land of culture, festivals and, worship. Around the year the festivals are celebrated by the people. One such a main festival is Buddha Purnima. This holy day is celebrated in the month of Vaishakha (April-May) as marking the birth Anniversary of Gautama Buddha, who found “Buddhism”. His birthday is announced as a holiday in most of the Indian states and observed throughout the country and Nepal too. Buddha Jayanthi is religiously celebrated by Buddhists where Ahimsa, Karuna are reiterated.
Photo by egefan – Suzan Almond
An interesting fact is to be noted that Lord Buddha was born on the full moon day, achieved salvation and enlightenment on the full moon day and he died on the same full moon day. Gautama Buddha gave his first oration at Sarnath that’s why the place has been considered as an important place in Buddhism. A large fair is conducted at Sarnath where Buddha’s reminiscences are displayed for the public.
Even though Buddha Purnima is celebrated by the Buddhist population across the world, yet Gaya, Bihar, and, Uttrapradesh are the top places where his birthday is celebrated grandly.
Celebration in Bodh Gaya
Photo by Anandajoti
As all we know Buddha attained his enlightenment under the Sacred Bodhi Tree (Pipal tree). On Buddha Jayanthi, a huge crowd throngs from various places of the world to take part in the ceremony. Group meditations, processions, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, prayer meet, worshiping the Buddha statue are held throughout the day. The Mahabodhi shrine is adorned with special arrangements. Buddhists are conventionally pure vegetarians. People who are non-vegetarians will strictly not eat meat on the Buddha Jayanthi. Devotees spend their entire day in listening and teachings of Buddha principles.
Buddha is revered as the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Siddhartha Gautama was born in Lumbini, Nepal. As a young prince, he married a princess and soon became the father of a child. When he was traveling he had seen an old man, an ill-well person, a dead body, and celibate. That was the first time he had a chance to see all grievances. He distressed with all reality and walked out of his palace to know the eternal truth. He took an ascetic life, sat under a Pipal tree, started to meditate until he found enlightenment. 49 days continuously he meditated for wisdom and finally achieved. Buddha started his preaching with a small group after his enlightenment and they turned as his disciples. He eventually set free from the rebirth and achieved salvation.
In Vesak, the dharma chakra symbol is often seen. This wooden wheel contains eight spokes that symbolize the dignified eightfold pathway of Buddhism. Generally, on Buddha Purnima, the people wear white-clad, refrain from eating meat. Sweet Kheer is the auspicious food. The Buddha statue is placed on the water-filled basin and decorated with flowers. People visit temples on the day as a new beginning of their lives. The Buddhist devotees also offer candles, flower, incense, and fruits to the statues of Lord Buddha.
Besides India, Burma, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka (Vesak), Korea, Mongolia, Laos people celebrate Buddha Jayanthi in their own tradition.
Buddha’s approach towards life
Buddha was like a doctor. First, he diagnosed the illness, next he found out the cause, and then he decided the remedy to cure. Finally, he administered patients with medicines, treatment to get back wellness. His four noble truths are:
- Suffering is common to everyone
- We are the cause of our sufferings
- When stop doing the cause of suffering, it will end
- One who finds the path to end suffering, he can be enlightened
The cessation of suffering can be done by leading an eightfold path such as right view, right speech, right effort, right concentration, right action, right thought, right livelihood and right mindfulness.
Photo by public.resource.org