Buddha Jayanti, also known as Buddha Poornima , is the most sacred festival of Buddhism. It falls on the full moon of the fourth lunar month Vaisakh i.e. during April or May. This day commemorates three important events in Buddha’s life:
- His birth
- His enlightenment i.e. attainment of supreme wisdom
- His attainment of Nirvana i.e. his passing away at the age of 80
Lord Buddha was the founder of the Buddhism and is said to be the ninth avatar of Vishnu. Buddha’s original name was Siddhartha Gautam. Siddhartha Gautam was born about 543 BC in Kapilvastu of Nepal (नेपाल).
Birth and birth place of Lord Buddha
Siddhartha was son of King Suddhodhan Gautam and queen Maya Devi. Buddha was born in a garden of Sal trees (Shorea robusta), situated in the beautiful and peaceful Lumbini zone in Rupandehi district of Nepal. UNESCO has listed Lumbini, Nepal as a world heritage site and birthplace of Gautama Buddha.
- Buddha means “Awakened One”. Gautama Buddha is also known as Shakyamuni
- It is believed that immediately after his birth, Siddartha took seven steps towards the north and raising a finger in the air, indicating ‘he was the supreme of the world and that was his final birth’.
- When Buddha was 80 years old, he told his closest disciple and cousin Ananda that he would be leaving them soon. And so it came to be that on the night of full moon, in Kushinagara, he ate some spoiled food and fell ill. He went into deep meditation under a grove of sala trees and left his physical body. His last words were…
“Impermanent are all created things; Strive on with awareness.”
Celebrations And Rituals
- The main celebrations of Buddha Jayanti take place in Bodh Gaya. On Buddha poornima large number of people from all over the world assemble to pay their respectful homage to Lord Buddha. Besides decorating the temple and area around with colorful Buddhist flags.
- The Morning Prayer, colorful procession of the monks, worship with large offerings, distribution of sweets and snacks takes place.
- In other places Prayers, sermons and non-stop recitations of Buddhist scriptures resonate in monasteries, religious halls and homes. On this day the Buddhists bathe and wear only white clothes. People offer incense, flowers, candles and fruits to the statue of Lord Buddha. They spend their entire day listening to discourses on the life and teachings of the Buddha.
- At Bodhgaya, the Mahabodhi Temple wears a festive look and is decorated with colorful flags and flowers. Special prayers are organized under the Bodhi Tree (the tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment).
- The National Musuem in New Delhi also brings the mortal remains of Buddha (what are believed to be some of his bones and ashes) out for public viewing on Buddha Jayanti
- On Buddha Purnima, they set up stalls in public places to offer others clean drinking water and also show kindness to animals
- Buddha Jayanti is an extremely peaceful and uplifting occasion
- According to a Buddhist legend, Buddha’s wife Yashodhara, his first disciple Ananda, his charioteer Channa, and the horse Kantaka on which he renounced his kingdom to ‘find some answers to life’, were all born on the sacred day of Buddha Jayanti, also known as Buddha Purnima.