Buddha Purnima 2017 would be celebrated worldwide by the people on 10th of May, at Wednesday.
Buddha Purnima festival is celebrated every year in the Hindi month of Vaishakha 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. Although, the real date of his birth and death is unknown however, it is estimated by many historians between 563-483 BC. He was born in the Lumbini, Nepal to the King Shuddhodana (King of Kapilvastu) and Queen Maya Devi and died at his 80 in the Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.
Bodh Gaya, Lumbini, Kushinagar and Sarnath has become the most important pilgrimage sites for the Buddhists as these places are deeply attached to the life of Gautama Buddha. Bodh Gaya is the place where Gautama Buddha obtained the Enlightenment after many years of Tapa, Sarnath is the place where he first taught the Dharma, Lumbini is his birth place and Kushinagar is death place.
The day of celebration of Buddha Purnima varies from year to year. According to the Gregorian calendar, Buddha Purnima falls every year from the end of April to the end of May. Buddha’s birthday celebration date has been declared by the Taiwanese government on 2nd Sunday of the May.
Buddha Purnima Celebration
It is celebrated every year on the full moon day in the month of April or May to celebrate the birth anniversary, death anniversary (Nirvana) and enlightenment of the Lord Buddha. Buddha Purnima celebration has special significance for the Buddhists people as the founder of the Buddhism was born.
Variety of social, cultural and religious events and ceremonies like prayer meetings (including Panchasheel, Sutrapath, Ashtasheel, Sutrasraban), fair, Bodhidroom Mela and lots of activities are arranged by the Buddhists for three or more days to specially celebrate this event. Holy books, magazines and other reading materials are distributed by the Bhuddhist organizations among people.
At this day, special programmes and messages are distributed by the radio channels, TV channels and newspapers to give the real message of celebration among common people. Religious people came from all the corners of the world to the Bodh Gaya to get participated in the Buddha Purnima celebrations. People participate in the celebration ceremonies like prayer reciting, lectures on the Gautam Buddha life history, religious speeches about the Buddhist scriptures, meditation, Lord Buddha statue worship and processions.
People came to the temple and offer holy water to the statue of Buddha and then worship by offering flowers, incense, candles and fruits. Buddhist people help poor people by offering money, food and other necessary goods. Caged animals are freed at this day to distribute the message of; freeness is the basic rights of each and every living creature according to the Buddha.
On the day of Buddha Purnima celebration, Mahabodhi temple is decorated by the religious people using beautiful flowers, flags and other things. At this unique day, Buddhist people perform special rituals like followers bathe, wearing white clothes after holy bath, get together to pray, preaching teachings of Lord Buddha, eat and distribute the kheer and etc. They serve common public at this day by setting up the clean drinking water stalls in the public places. Some of the particular activities which are carried out at this day by different countries such as:
• Buddhists in the Burma specially take care of the Bodhi trees through continuous watering and nursing to commemorate the enlightenment attained by the Lord Buddha.
• In the Sri Lanka, people decorate and enlighten their houses with the oil-lamps. They decorate bamboo sticks with the stars and arrange to their houses.
• A special procession of the monks is carried out with the sacred scriptures in the Gangtok, India.
• Buddhists in the Japan, decorate the small statue of the Buddha with spring flowers after performing the ritual of bathe.
Places of Buddha Purnima Celebration
It 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, Buddha Jayanti Park, Delhi and etc.
Importance of Buddha Purnima
Buddha Purnima is celebrated to commemorate the Lord Buddha and his religious achievements during his life time. He was a Prince by birth however he never chose to live very easy and prosperous life of the palace. At his sixteen he got married to the beautiful woman and got a nice son. At his 29, a big turning point came in his life, he left the palace and went outside in the search of truth about old age, death, sickness and etc. He started wandering like an ascetic after lefting his son, wife and rich life of the palace for searching the enlightenment. He reached to the Bodh Gaya at his 35 and sat beneath the Bodhi tree for the deep meditation until he got enlightenment. He attained nirvana after 49 days of the deep meditation and became a Buddha.
From then, it was started celebrating as Buddha Purnima to commemorate his Jayanti, nirvana and enlightenment. Dharmacakra means Dharma wheel (having 8 spokes and path to enlightenment) represents the symbol of Buddhism during the celebration of Buddha Purnima. It has been declared as an official holiday in India and all the government offices, banks, post offices including businesses and other private organizations are closed. It is celebrated in different countries with different names such as Swanyapunhi in the Nepal, Vesak Day in the Singapore, Hari Waisak in the Indonesia, Visakha Bucha Day in the Thailand and etc.
Rituals at Buddha Purnima
People celebrate Buddha Purnima every year by organizing some important events and performing several rituals to honour his exemplary life. Devotees gets involved in the celebration, visits monasteries, listens sermons, stories, stanzas, etc from the Buddhist scriptures. They offer foods, clothes, money, gifts or other useful things to the priests and poor.
Devotees of the Lord Buddha pay tribute to the statue with the offerings of flowers, incense, candles, prasad, music, devotional songs, Buddhist Holy Scriptures recitation, religious speech and discussion, prayer, religious parade, meditation, aarti, etc. People celebrate this festival very peacefully and show their faith to the five principles of Lord Buddha called Panchsheel. People become involved in many religious activities all through the day. People also perform ritual of Abhishek through milk and scented water on the Bodhi tree and place clay or artificial diyas around it.