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Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima 2017 and 2018

Buddha Purnima is one of the largest Buddhist holidays in India.

YearDateDayHolidayStates
201710 MayWedBuddha PurnimaAN, AR, CG, CH, DL, HP,
HR, JH, JK, MH, MP, MZ,
TR, UK, UP & WB
201829 MayTueBuddha PurnimaAN, AR, CG, CH, DL, HP,
HR, JH, JK, MH, MP, MZ,
TR, UK & UP

This major public holiday is celebrated widely in the major population centers of India. Although less than one percent of the Indian population identifies as Buddhist, Buddha Purnima is a vibrant holiday that attracts people from across the globe. This festival honors the birth, enlightenment, and death of Siddhartha Gautama, or Lord Buddha. In addition to India, Buddha Purnima is celebrated in various areas of East and Southeast Asia. The date of this holiday is not fixed to the Gregorian calendar like many Western holidays; it is observed on the full moon of the month of Vaishakha on the Hindu calendar. Buddhia Purnima is a holiday that is oriented around humility and respect.

Life of Buddha

It is common knowledge that the Buddha is the enlightened leader of Buddhism throughout the world, but it is also important to know about the events that led to Siddhartha Gautama’s achievement of nirvana. According to Buddhist scholars, Siddhartha was born to a noble family in India. During his youth, Siddhartha was sheltered from the hardships of the world and enjoyed a very luxurious lifestyle. After growing curious about the outside world, Siddhartha ordered his servant to take him into one of the poor towns near his compound.

During his brief trip, Siddhartha encountered many horrors, including illness, sorrow, and greed. This greatly troubled Siddhartha and he no longer found joy in simple things like wine or women. Soon after this, Siddhartha embarked on a journey to find the cause of the world’s suffering. After many years of self-reflection, suffering, and meditation, Siddhartha discovered that human desire was the root of the world’s problems. After achieving enlightenment, Siddhartha spread his teachings to the people of India. Siddhartha Gautama died when he was 80 years of age. The teachings of Siddhartha Gautama continue to spread throughout the world today.

History of Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima was celebrated for hundreds of years after the death of Siddhartha Gautama. Despite this, the festival did not become an official Buddhist holiday until the middle of the 20th century. In 1950, the World Fellowship of Buddhists gathered in Sri Lanka to discuss the future of Buddhism. At this gathering, they decided to make Buddha Purnima an official holiday that would honor the birth, life, and death of Lord Buddha.

Activities

Many Indian Buddhists celebrate Buddha Purnima through various acts of humility and fun.

  • Ceremonies Before Dawn
    One of the most common ways to celebrate Buddha Purnima is to gather at a place of worship before the sun rises. This ceremony is observed with various prayers and dances. In some areas, marches and physical exercises are performed. This is a way of showing gratitude for health and the simple things in life. Some people also participate in hymns.
  • Hoisting of the Buddhist Flag
    After the sun rises on Buddha Purnima, the Buddhist flag is hoisted at temples and other sites of religious importance. The modern Buddhist flag originated in Sri Lanka. Its primary colors are blue, red, white, orange, and yellow. Blue represents compassion and respect for all living things. Red is a symbol of the blessings of practice. White represents the purity of Dharma. Orange is a representation of wisdom. Finally, yellow stands of the Middle Path, or the commitment to avoid extremes.
  • Donations
    Many Buddhist temples host festivals that provide free activities for people of all ages. Since these events are free, participants are expected to donate money or food to the monks.
  • Freeing of Caged Animals
    To show compassion, many people free caged birds and other animals on Buddha Purnima. This practice also brings attention to the moral issue of the imprisonment of humans throughout the world.

Some of the best places to celebrate Buddha Purnima in India are:

  • Bodh Gaya
  • Gangtok
  • Sarnath

Buddha Purnima is an opportunity for Indian Buddhists to show compassion and honor the birth, death, and enlightenment of Lord Buddha.