Buddha Purnima, also known as Vesak or Vaishakh, is an important festival across the world, especially for those who follow Buddhism. Though the time & date is uncertain, it is said that the three crucial events of Lord Buddha’s life (birth, enlightenment & salvation) happened on the same day & this coincidence makes this a great day in Buddhism.
Buddha Purnima is celebrated as the Birth Anniversary of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. He is the founder of Buddhism and it is a Buddhist festival that is celebrated in most Asian countries. Lord Buddha’s birth is celebrated in the first full Moon of Vaishak Month of the Buddhist calendar, which also holds other significance as well since it is a festival of birthday, enlightenment day and day of his death.
He is also said to be the 9th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. In East Asia, Vietnam and the Philippines, the awakening and death of the Buddha are observed as gazetted holidays.
This day occurs on the Full Moon or Purnima of the Hindu Vaishakh month.
DATE: 5 May 2023, Friday
Lord Buddha was born as Siddhartha Gautama, in the Shakya Clan. Predictions were made before the birth of Lord Buddha that he will become a Monk and a spiritual leader. In fear of losing his son, Lord Buddha’s father confined him in the palace and he was only allowed to see the outside world after the age of 29.
On his first outside visit, he noticed three things: A man, a dead body and a sick person. These three things made him understand how life is all about sorrow, pain and suffering with a temporary phase.
He left the princely life, travelled into the forest and spent a long six years studying doctrines and undergoing yogic austerities. Buddha Purnima, therefore, stands for peace, non-violence and harmony. It is said that he spent seven weeks in the shade of a Bodhi tree until he reached enlightenment or Nirvana at the age of 80. Then he preached sermons and embarked on missionary travels for 45 years.
Buddha preached calm and asked his disciples to lead the middle path towards a simple and truthful life.
1. Not to take life
2. Not to Rob
3. Not to Lie
4. Not to Consume Alcohol
5. Not to Commit Infidelity
1. Right View or Awareness – Knowing the Truth.
2. Right Intention – Free-up your mind from ill thoughts.
3. Right Speech – Avoid hurting others.
4. Right Action – Work for the benefit of others.
5. Right Livelihood – Maintaining ethics in life.
6. Right efforts – Abstain from evil.
7. Right Mindfulness – Practice.
8. Right Concentration – Balance your thoughts.
Buddha Purnima is a public holiday in India. It is celebrated especially in Sikkim, Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bodh Gaya, Lahaul and various parts of North Bengal and other parts of India.
On this day, devotees go to Buddhist temples where they pray and meditate and also help the needy. Sweet rice and porridge are served commonly on this day. The Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya in India is decorated with flowers and colours.
It is a public holiday and the event is known as Buddho Purnima. On this day, the President and Prime Minister deliver speech addressing the history and importance of Buddhism and religious beliefs in the country.
Big fairs are organized around the temples where food, clothes and toys are available. People stage performances of Buddha’s life. Monks teach about the Principles of Dharma and the Five Percepts (‘Panchashila’). In the Monastery, the chief Monk delivers a speech on Buddha and the importance of spirituality. People light candles and recite the Three Jewels and Five Precepts.
In Bhutan, Buddha Purnima is a national holiday and is also celebrated as Saga Dawa (Fourth month of the Tibetan calendar). This falls on the full Moon Day, i.e., 15th of the month, with celebrations of three holy events of Buddha’s life: birth, enlightenment and death.
Devotees follow a strict regime by fasting and throughout the Saga Dawa Vesak Month, practice holy, virtuous and ethical activities at homes, temples, monasteries, and public places.
In Cambodia, Buddha’s birthday is celebrated as Visak Bochea and is a public holiday. On this day, Monks carry the Buddhist flag, lotus flowers, incense, and candles to acknowledge Vesak.
It is celebrated as Vesak and it is a public holiday. A large procession takes place that begins in Mendut in Java and ends at Borobudur – the largest Buddhist temple in the world.
This day is generally and commonly called Fodan, Bathing Buddha Festival. In Buddhist temples, people light incense sticks and bring offerings for the monks. It symbolizes Buddha’s enlightenment, and many people visit the temple to pay respect.
They chant Buddhist sutra and other religious recitation. Buddhist temples hold celebrations and are decorated with Buddhist flags and flowers. Devotees also bring offerings to the temple.
In Japan, Buddha’s birthday is known as Kanbutsu-e, and is held on 8th April. It’s a national holiday. The devotees pour ama-cha (a beverage prepared from Hydrangea serrata) on small Buddha statues decorated with flowers, as if bathing a newborn baby. Lion dancing is a major ceremony practiced during Buddha’s birthday and has become associated with the festival in Japan.
Buddha’s Birthday is designated as a national holiday in North Korea and is known as Chopali. It is celebrated with traditional fervor in Korean culture and was celebrated in Korea long before the division of the country.
In South Korea, this day is called ‘Bucheo-nim-o-shin nal’, birthday of Sakhyamuni Buddha. Lotus lanterns hang in temples, homes and streets throughout the month. Many temples provide free meals and tea to all visitors and organize a large lantern festival called Yeondeunghoe.
Buddha’s Birthday, a popular festival and folk celebration in Korea, is often celebrated by people of all religious faiths.
Buddha Purnima is also celebrated in other areas like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mangolia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the United States. The entire globe receives high vibrational energy on this day.