Buddha Purnima/Vesak in India
Buddha Purnima, also known as Vesak, is a significant festival in India that celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. In India, it is locally known as "Buddha Jayanti" or "Buddha Purnima" and is observed on the full moon day in the lunar month of Vaisakha, which usually falls in April or May.
Buddha Purnima is calculated based on the lunar calendar, and its date varies every year. The festival is usually celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakha month, according to the Indian calendar. In 2022, Buddha Purnima falls on May 16th.
India has a deep connection with Buddhism, as it is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. Buddha Purnima has been celebrated in India since ancient times, and its significance can be traced back to the time of Emperor Ashoka, who ruled India in the 3rd century BCE. Ashoka embraced Buddhism after witnessing the devastation caused by the Kalinga War and started promoting Buddhism across his empire. He declared Buddha Purnima as a public holiday and encouraged people to observe the day with prayers, sermons, and charity.
National customs for Buddha Purnima in India
Buddha Purnima is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion throughout India. The day is marked by various religious and cultural events, including prayers, sermons, and meditation sessions in Buddhist monasteries, temples, and shrines. Devotees visit these religious places to offer flowers, incense, and candles to the statue of Buddha, seeking his blessings for peace and happiness.
Many people also observe a vegetarian diet on this day as a mark of respect for Buddha's teachings of non-violence and compassion towards all living beings. Charitable acts, such as donating food, clothes, and medicines to the needy, are also an essential part of the Buddha Purnima celebrations. Cultural programs depicting the life and teachings of Buddha are organized in various parts of the country, and special processions are carried out in some regions.
Local customs for Buddha Purnima in India
In addition to the national customs, there are some local customs associated with Buddha Purnima in different parts of India. In the state of Bihar, where Buddha attained enlightenment, the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya is beautifully illuminated, and thousands of devotees from all over the world gather to participate in the celebrations. Special prayers and meditation sessions are organized at the temple, and the sacred Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment is also worshipped.
In Sarnath, near Varanasi, where Buddha preached his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, a large fair is organized, and relics of Buddha are taken out in a procession. In the northeastern states of India, like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, where Buddhism is the predominant religion, Buddha Purnima is celebrated with traditional fervor and various cultural events showcasing the region's rich Buddhist heritage.
Buddha Purnima, or Vesak, is a significant festival in India that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. The festival is observed with great devotion and enthusiasm, with various religious and cultural events taking place throughout the country. The customs associated with Buddha Purnima showcase India's rich Buddhist heritage and its deep connection with the teachings of Buddha.