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.
||Full Moon of the Baisakh/Vaisakh month
|Reason of Celebration
||To commemorate birth, attainment of knowledge, and the death of
||Thrice-blessed day for the Buddhists
||Fair at Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha
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.
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
, 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
- Birds are freed from cages. Fruits and clothes are distributed among
the sick and abstinence is observed on eating meat.
- The Bodhi tree is revered. Its branches are decorated with garlands
and colored flags. Rows of lamps are lit around the tree, and milk and
scented waters are sprinkled on its roots.
- The rituals include prayers, sermons on the life of Gautam Buddha,
continuous recitation of Buddhist scriptures, meditation by monks and
devotees, and worship of the statue of Buddha.
- Offerings of incense, flowers, candles and fruit are made by
believers, who prostrate several times in front of the idol.
- On this Holy day the Buddhists bathe and wear only white clothes.
They gather in their viharas for worship and give alms to monks.
- Buddhists also reaffirm their faith in the five principles called
Panchsheel. These five principles are:
- Not to take life
- Not to steal
- Not to lie
- Not to consume liquor or other intoxicants
- Not to commit adultery
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.
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'.
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
"Impermanent are all created things; Strive on with awareness."