What is the Buddha Purnima festival?

The Buddha Purnima festival is a special occasion meant to celebrate the birth and life of Lord Buddha. Known for his principles of nonviolence, love, and care for all, Lord Buddha is the primary deity of Buddhists and is the one who earned true enlightenment from the Universe. The festival Buddha Purnima meaning marks his birthday and commemorates his journey from being a prince to an enlightened being. Much like the teachings of Buddha, this festival also focuses on the age-old practices of self-awareness, self-realisation, self-growth, and understanding the self from within.

Buddha Purnima falls on the Full Moon day of the month of Vaishakh. While Buddha Purnima 2023 was on May 5, Buddha Jayanti date for 2024 is May 23. This day is observed all day long by devotees worldwide, and there is no strict Buddha Purnima time. Celebrations and traditions usually start early in the morning and end late at night after breaking fast and consuming vegetarian food. This day also observes a strict no-violence rule where consumption of non-vegetarian items is strictly forbidden.

What is the story behind Buddha Purnima?

The story behind Buddha Purnima is often retold on Buddha Jayanti. These stories include the birth of Siddhartha, his early life, his quest for enlightenment, and his death. These stories are often retold through sermons or family gatherings where people gather to remember Lord Buddha. The primary importance of these stories is to remind people of Buddha’s divine energy and how he had the ability to change the world.

The story of Birth: Born in 563 BCE in Lumbini, present-day Nepal, to the royal family, Siddhartha Gautama was the prince meant to access the throne. According to Buddhist texts and scriptures, Siddhartha’s mother, Queen Maya, gave birth to him while holding onto a tree branch in Lumbini Garden. At his birth, the Universe went through cosmic changes, and several auspicious signs came up. These changes and signs established that Prince Siddhartha was meant to achieve great things and was the Universe’s child. His birth was a divine act that changed the course of action in the cosmic realm and established the way for something new.

Story of Enlightenment: Perhaps one of the most essential parts of Buddhism is the divine story of Buddha’s journey to enlightenment and how he came to be known as Buddha from Siddhartha. Siddhartha was deeply bothered by the suffering people witnessed and was upset. So, in search of truth and liberation from the cyclic suffering of life, Siddhartha rejected his royal stature and devoted himself entirely to the quest for truth and honesty. He meditated and performed several methods of penance to attain enlightenment, and after years of strict order and meditation, he finally received enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Thus, he became Buddha, the enlightened one.

Story of Parinirvan: Parinirvana, or death, refers to Buddha’s rejection of the earthly body and acceptance of the ever-changing soul. After attaining enlightenment, he spent years travelling to different parts of the world to deliver teachings and sermons; eventually, he founded a Sangha or monastic community, where he gave Buddhism's core teachings and principles. When he was around 80 years old, he went into deep meditation and passed away.

Buddha Purnima is celebrated to commemorate Buddha's life's three stages and changes. On this day, devotees visit monasteries and temples to pay respect to Buddha and attain inner peace, wisdom, and joy.

What is the significance of Buddha Purnima?

The Buddha Purnima significance relates to all the stories surrounding Buddha Purnima and focuses on the birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha. This unique festival is also known as Vesak or Gautam Buddha Purnima. While we talk about Buddha Purnima, it is essential to focus on its importance and understand why this day holds such a special place in the hearts of devotees. This festival unites people under the same ideologies and helps them get back on track by practising Buddha’s principles.

Born in Lumbini, present-day Nepal, Lord Buddha was born as Siddhartha and later came to be known as Gautam Buddha after gaining enlightenment. His principles focused on a simple living and asked his devotees to let go of all worldly pleasures and materialistic needs and channel their energy towards a more conscious and straightforward living. This festival comes each year to remind people of these principles and ideologies and asks people to understand what they are doing with their lives. Not only does this festival talk about the life of the Buddha, but it also urges people to take inspiration from him and live their lives like he did.

What are the Rituals and Remedies involved in Buddha Purnima?

Also known as Vesak, the rituals surrounding Buddha Purnima begin early in the morning, and devotees perform several acts to showcase their love and devotion to Buddha. These rituals are an essential part of Buddha Jayanti and form the main essence of the festival. If you often wonder “What to do on Buddha Purnima?” then here is your answer:

Buddha Purnima Rituals

  • Devotees begin their day by visiting Buddha temples and monasteries and offering flowers and incense to Lord Buddha, along with their prayers.
  • Following this, devotees who have an idol of Buddha at home ceremonially bathe these figurines with milk and water and place him on a clean pedestal.
  • Then, flowers and incense sticks are placed in front of Buddha, and devotees circle the statue as a mark of respect. This practice is also observed in Stupas or the holy places of Buddhists.
  • Following these, devotees listen to Dhamma talks or sermons, Buddhist teachings and principles shared by monks and nuns.
  • Devotees also engage in acts of charity, remembering the 5 principles of Buddhism, which relate to staying away from violence, stealing, sexual misconduct, consuming intoxicants such as alcohol or drugs, and lying.
  • On this day, a strict vegetarian diet is followed, and devotees cannot eat non-vegetarian food items.
  • All of these rituals earn their variations from different groups, but acts of generosity, charity, and giving are the major themes of this occasion. Moreover, people also observe Sila or the extra rules, which include 8 rules. These rules are avoiding eating after noon and entertainment.

Buddha Purnima Remedies

  • Offering holy water to the roots of the Peepal tree will welcome the blessings and grace of Lord Buddha and make way for inner peace and stability.
  • Meditating can help one feel more connected with the spiritual energy of the Universe and themselves.
  • Offering fruits and flowers to Lord Buddha can ensure one receives His blessings, allowing people to improve their lives.
  • Donations or Daan are major festival traditions; people should donate items like food and clothes.
  • Donating sesame and honey can allow people to relieve themselves of their past sins.

Conclusion

Buddha Purnima or Gautam Buddha Jayanti is not just a day focusing on the birth of Siddhartha or Buddha but is a day dedicated to the act of non-violence, love, charity, and spiritual awakening. This day reminds people to form a connection with their souls and forget about the world and its worldly pleasures. This day is special for all devotees of Buddha and helps them connect themselves better with Buddha and his principles.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Buddha Purnima or Gautam Buddha Jayanti is celebrated to mark the birth of Siddhartha, who later earned enlightenment and became Lord Buddha. Gautam Buddha is the primary deity of Buddhists, and this festival is significant to them.
Devotees start with traditional rituals and celebrations early in the day, decorate their homes with candles and incense sticks, and create Swastikas in front of their houses. In addition, they pray to Lord Buddha, recite and chant scriptures, engage in charity work, and remember Lord Buddha's teachings.
Non-veg food is strictly forbidden on Buddha Jayanti date, and people only consume vegetarian items. Moreover, devotees also dress in white to commemorate this special day.
The Buddha Jayanti date for 2024 is 23 May, and the Buddha Purnima time is not restricted to any particular time. Devotees start their celebrations early in the morning and end the rituals with a vegetarian feast.
Buddha Jayanti and Buddha Purnima are the same. While Purnima means Full Moon in Sanskrit, Jayanti means birthday or birth anniversary. Both these terms are correct when referring to this festival.
While people have been celebrating Gautam Buddha Purnima for ages, it was not until 1950 that the World Fellowship of Buddhists formalised this event as a proper festival and celebration. This day is a gazetted holiday in India.
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