Purnima or Vaishakh Purnima, is the most important festival for the followers
of Buddhism across the globe. Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini on the day of
Buddha Purnima, on this day he attained enlightenment and, on this day, his
Mahanirvana also took place. It is observed on the full moon day of Baisakh
month. While the festival of Buddha Purnima holds special significance for
Buddhist followers, there is a different belief about this day for Hindus as well.
named Bodhgaya located in Bihar is a holy pilgrimage place for the followers of
Hindu and Buddhist religions. After renunciation, Siddhartha wandered in the
forest for seven years in search of truth. Here he did severe reparation and achieved
enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya on the day of Vaishakh Purnima,
since then, this day is known as Buddha Purnima. On the occasion of Buddha
Purnima, a month-long fair is held at the Mahaparinirvan Vihar located in
Kushinagar, the place of Buddha's Mahaparinirvana. The construction of this
temple is encouraged by the caves of Ajanta. This Vihara has a 6.1-meter-long
reclining idol of Lord Buddha, made of red sandstone. This Vihara has
been built at the same place from where this idol was taken out.
There is a
stupa in the eastern part of the vihara. Lord Buddha was cremated here. This
idol is also a replica of the Mahaparinirvana idol of Lord Buddha made in
Ajanta. In Sri Lanka and other South-East Asian countries, this day is
celebrated as the Shwesaka festival. On this day Buddhist followers light lamps in
the houses and decorate the homes with flowers. Followers of Buddhism from all
over the globe come to Bodh Gaya and offer prayers. Buddhist scriptures
are recited on this day. Flowers and fruits are offered to the idol of Buddha
in monasteries and homes and worshiped by lighting lamps. The Bodhi tree is also
worshipped. Its branches are decorated with garlands and colorful flags. Milk and scented water are poured into its roots by lighting a lamp around the tree. Good deeds done on this full moon day bring merit. Birds are released
from cages and food and clothes are donated to the poor.
WHY AND HOW BUDDHA PURNIMA IS CELEBRATED?
Buddha learned about violence, sin, and death in his life, he gave up attachment
and Maya. In such a situation, he left his family, got rid of all the responsibilities, and set out in search of truth. After this Buddha
also got the knowledge of the truth. At the same time, the date of Vaishakh
Purnima has a special relationship with the major events of Lord Buddha's life. For
this reason, Buddha Purnima is celebrated every year on Vaishakh Purnima.
Purnima did not have the status of an official Buddhist holiday until the 20th
century. But in 1950, the World Buddhist Assembly was organized in Sri Lanka
and this event was organized to discuss Buddhism. Since then, it was decided to
make Buddha Purnima an official holiday in this assembly. At the same time,
this day is celebrated in honor of the birthday of Lord Buddha. Apart from
India, the festival of Buddha Purnima is being celebrated for hundreds of years
in foreign countries as well. This includes many countries like Cambodia, Nepal,
Japan, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand, which celebrate Buddha Jayanti today. On Buddha Purnima, devotees start
their day by cleaning their houses, taking a bath, and sprinkling Gangajal
around the house. They also light a candle, decorate their houses with
flowers, make swastikas with turmeric, roli, or kumkum in
front of the entrance, and pour milk near the Bodhi tree. Apart from this,
people donate food and clothes to the needy.