Buddha Purnima festival is celebrated during Vaishakha month to commemorate the birth anniversary, Enlightenment and Mahaparinirvana (death anniversary) of the Gautama Buddha. The birth name of the Gautama Buddha was Siddhartha. Gautama who later became a great Buddha and called as Gautama Buddha. He became a great spiritual teacher and founded Buddhism. Buddha Purnima
The time of Gautama Buddha’s birth and death is uncertain. However, most historians date his lifetime between 563-483 B.C. Most people consider Lumbini, Nepal as birth place of Buddha. Buddha died at the age of 80 at Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.
For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important pilgrimage site related to the life of Gautama Buddha. The other three important pilgrimage sites are Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. It is believed that Gautama Buddha obtained Enlightenment at Bodhagaya and he first taught the Dharma at Sarnath.It is believed that Gautama Buddha obtained Enlightenment and passed away on the same day. Buddha Purnima is also known as Buddha Jayanti, Vesak, Vaishaka and Buddha’s Birthday.
Buddha Purnima is celebrated every year at the various Buddhist pilgrimage sites all over the world such as Bodhgaya and Sarnath as well as other Buddhist regions like Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and many other places. Followers from Tibet, Bhutan, Thailand, and various other places visit Sarnath on this day for blessings.
The most important and visual aspect of Buddha Purnima celebrations is the procession in Bodh Gaya that starts from the 80-ft tall Buddha statue up to the Mahabodhi tree, the fig tree, representative of Lord Buddha’s Enlightenment. The Mahabodhi tree is worshipped in a ritualistic way with water, incense, flowers, diyas and candles. The Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, a strong symbolic and architectural gem, housing the majestic statue of Buddha is decorated with colorful flags and flowers for Buddha Purnima celebrations. The temple premises and adjoining locality are lit up in equal measure and decorated with colorful flags in yellow, white, red and blue at various places.
Since purity is one of the hallmarks of this day, ‘Kheer’, a sweet-dish made with rice and milk is prepared. Devotees generally prefer to dress in white. To mark the occasion, fairs are also held. As a symbolic gesture, on Buddha Purnima, Buddhists in India and other Buddhist countries make special efforts to light up their houses while streets are gloriously illumined with lights.
Despite the festivity, the mood during Buddha Jayanti is peaceful and sublime. For Buddhists, this is a day to reaffirm their faith in the five principles called Panchsheel, i.e. refraining from taking life, stealing, lying, consuming intoxicants and committing adultery, as well as the Eight-Fold path as symbolized by the Dharma wheel. The day advances with a host of religious activities that include large-scale prayer meets, recitation of Buddhist Holy Scriptures, religious discourses, group meditation, processions, and elaborate offerings and worship of the statue of Lord Buddha. Special religious programmes including ‘bhajan’ and ‘aarti’ are held. As a part of rituals, devotees pour milk and scented waters on the Bodhi tree and place diyas around it.