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Buddha Purnima

The Thrice Blessed Festival

BuddhaBuddha Purnima Festival or Buddha Jayanti Festival is the most sacred day in Buddhist calendar. It is the most important festival of Buddhists, and is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Although Buddhists regard every full moon as sacred, the moon of the month of Vaisakh/Baisakh (April - May) has special significance because on this day Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, and Nirvana. This strange, three-fold coincidence, gives Buddha Purnima its unique significance.

Fast Facts
Month May
Celebrated on Full Moon of the Baisakh/Vaisakh month
Reason of Celebration To commemorate birth, attainment of knowledge, and the death of Lord Buddha
Significance Thrice-blessed day for the Buddhists
Special Events Fair at Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha


Buddhist Legend
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.

Celebration
Buddhist Pilgrims come from all over the world to Bodh Gaya in Nepal to attend the Buddha Poornima celebrations on birthday of Buddha. The day is marked with prayer meets, sermons on the life of Gautam Buddha, religious discourses, continuous recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions, worship of the statue of Buddha and symposia.

The Mahabodhi Temple wears a festive look and is decorated with colourful flags and flowers. On this Holy day, the Buddhists bathe and wear only white clothes. They gather in their viharas for worship and give alms to monks. Many spend their entire day at the vihara listening to discourses on the life and teachings of the Buddha or invite monks to their homes.

On Buddha Purnima, Buddhists eat kheer, rice cooked in milk and sugar, which they share with the poor. They set up stalls in public places to offer others clean drinking water and also show kindness to animals.

Oberservences and Rituals
About Gautama Buddha
Birth
It is believed that Queen Mayadevi, the mother of Lord Buddha gave him birth while emerging from a bath at the Pushkarni pool at the Lumbini garden and the place is venerated thereafter.
The legend narrates that the Buddha was born fully awakened on a night of full moon in Lumbini. He could speak, and told his mother he had come to free all mankind from suffering. He could stand, and he walked a short distance in each of the four directions. The miraculous boy was named Siddhartha, which means 'he who has attained his goals'. Sadly, Queen Mayadevi died only seven days after the birth.

Enlightenment
In the town of Bodh Gaya, Siddhartha decided that he would sit under a certain fig tree as long as it would take for the answers to the problem of 'sufferings in human life'. He sat there for many days, first in deep concentration to clear his mind of all distractions, then in mindfulness meditation, opening himself up to the truth.

He began to recall all his previous lives. He could see everything that was going on in the entire universe. On the full moon of May, with the rising of the morning star, Siddhartha finally understood the answer to the question of suffering and became the Buddha, which means 'he who is awake'.

Nirvana
When the Buddha was 80 years old, he told his friend 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 died. His last words were...

"Impermanent are all created things; Strive on with awareness."
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