Thursday, May 7, 2020

7 May (Thursday) Buddha Purnima

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Buddha Purnima also known as Buddha Jayanti or Vesak is a Buddhist festival. The festival marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha and is celebrated by the Buddhist community across the country as well as in countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia etc. The festival holds special importance and is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm.

The public holiday for Buddha purnima in India was initiated by B. R. Ambedkar when he was the minister of law and justice It is celebrated especially in Sikkim, Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bodh Gaya, various parts of North Bengal such as Kalimpong, Darjeeling, and Kurseong, and Maharashtra (where 77% of total Indian Buddhists live) and other parts of India as per Indian calendar. Buddhists go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, akin to a service. The dress code is pure white. Non-vegetarian food is normally avoided. Kheer, sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Gautama Buddha's life, offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge. Informally called "Buddha's Birthday", it actually commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada tradition. Tibetans in exile remember Buddha's birthday on the 7th day of the Saga Dawa month (fourth month of the Tibetan calendar), which culminates with Buddha's parinirvana celebrations on the full moon day.

About Gautama Buddha
Gautam Buddha is born as Siddhartha Gautama to King Suddhodana. He was brought up in great luxury. Since it was predicted at his birth that the prince would go on become a great monarch, he was kept isolated from the outside world so that he wouldn’t get influenced towards a religious life. However, at the age of 29, the prince decided to see more of the world and began excursions off the palace grounds in his chariot. On his trips, he saw an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. Since, Siddhartha Gautama had been protected from the miseries of aging, sickness, and death his charioteer had to explain what they were. Towards the end of the trip, he saw a monk and was impressed with the man’s peaceful demeanor. Hence, he decided to go into the world to discover how the man could be so serene despite such sufferings all around him. He left the palace and became a wandering ascetic. He studied medication under Alara Kalama and Udraka Ramaputra and soon mastered their systems. He reached high states of mystical realization but as he was unsatisfied, he went out in search of nirvana, the highest level of enlightenment. He seated himself under a banyan tree and seeked to attain enlightenment. Once, he attained enlightenment, he went about preaching about it and founded Buddhism.

Celebration of Buddha Purnima
On the day of the festival, Buddha idols are worshipped as well as prayer meets are held. Devotees visit Buddhist shrines, recite Buddhist scriptures and take part in religious discussions and group meditations. On the occasion of the festival, the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya is beautified with hued decorations and special prayers are held under the Bodhi tree, where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. The national museum in Delhi lets people see the holy remains of Lord Buddha on the occasion. A sweet dish called ‘Kheer’ which is made using rice and milk is prepared on the day of the festival.

History Of Buddha Purnima
Since many centuries, Vesak is a traditional celebration in the Mahayana Buddhist. In 563 BCE, Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini as per the Theravada Tripitaka scriptures. Today, Lumbini is a part of Nepal. In 1950, Vesak was earlier pondered as Buddha Purnima. It was decided in the first conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists. In 1999, the celebrations of Vesak was recognised as Buddha Purnima. Vesak is an important day for Buddhists. The day celebrates the birth, death and enlightenment of Buddha. In the Buddhist community, it is one of the widely celebrated festivals.

Pubic LifeSince Buddha Purnima is a gazetted holiday in India, post offices, government offices and even banking institutions will remain closed. Shops owned by Buddhists may remain closed on the festival day. They also can have reduced working hours. The transportation system will not be disturbed.

Symbol
During Vesak, dharma wheel symbol is commonly seen. Dharma wheel is also called dharmachakra. It has eight ribs. The great teachings of Gautam Buddha are represented through this wheel. The precious eightfold path of the Buddhist community is symbolised through eight struts.

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