Updated May 20th, 2024 at 07:54 IST

Buddha Purnima 2024: History, Significance, Celebrations

On this day, remember Buddha's enduring legacy and his teachings on compassion, wisdom, and the pursuit of enlightenment.

Buddha | Image:Freepik
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Buddha Purnima, also known as Vesak, is the most significant Buddhist festival, marking the birth, enlightenment, and death (Parinirvana) of Gautama Buddha. This auspicious day falls on the full moon day in the month of Vaisakh (April-May) according to the Hindu calendar. The exact date varies each year based on the lunar calendar. Gautama Buddha, born Siddhartha Gautama in Lumbini (present-day Nepal) in 563 BCE, is revered as the founder of Buddhism. He attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India, and spent his life teaching the path to Nirvana (liberation from the cycle of birth and death) through the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Buddha Purnima commemorates these pivotal events in his life. This year, Buddha Purnima will be celebrated on 23rd May.

Significance of Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima holds immense significance for Buddhists around the world. It is a day to honor the Buddha's profound contributions to spirituality and human understanding. His teachings emphasize compassion, non-violence, and the pursuit of wisdom, offering a path to inner peace and enlightenment. The festival is not just a religious observance but also a reflection on these universal values, encouraging individuals to live mindfully and ethically.

Buddha Statue | Image: Unsplash

The day serves as a reminder of the potential for enlightenment within every individual. It underscores the importance of self-discipline, moral conduct, and the development of wisdom. Buddha Purnima is also a time for Buddhists to engage in charitable acts, reflecting the Buddha's emphasis on generosity and compassion.

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Celebrations of Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima is celebrated with great reverence and enthusiasm across the globe, particularly in countries with significant Buddhist populations like India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos. The celebrations are marked by various rituals and activities that reflect the spirit of the Buddha's teachings.

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In India, pilgrims throng to Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar, the key sites associated with the Buddha's life. Temples and monasteries are beautifully decorated, and devotees participate in chanting prayers, meditating, and listening to sermons on the Buddha's teachings. Offering alms to monks and the poor, releasing birds and animals, and participating in community services are common practices, symbolizing compassion and generosity.

In Nepal, Buddha's birthplace, Lumbini, becomes a hub of activity, with processions, prayer meetings, and the lighting of butter lamps. In Sri Lanka, colorful lanterns adorn homes and public spaces, and people engage in dana (giving) by distributing food and gifts to the needy.

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In Southeast Asian countries, processions, temple visits, and acts of charity mark the day. In Thailand, the holy relics of the Buddha are displayed for public veneration, and devotees circumambulate temples three times as a mark of respect.

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Published May 20th, 2024 at 07:54 IST