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Vesak is also known as Buddha Purnima, Buddha Jayanti and Buddha Day. It is considered as an auspicious day which generally falls in April or May. The date varies year to year as per the lunar calendar, and is celebrated on the first full moon day.
Significance Of Buddha Purnima
This sacred full moon day, also referred to as the 'Thrice Blessed Day', is an important festival in the Buddhist calendar which observes the most significant events in the life of Lord Buddha - his birth, enlightenment and death, all known to have happened on the same day.
Siddhartha Gautama, who was a prince, realized that the material things in life are transitory. He saw the pain and suffering that life meted out to all living beings. Thus, he went on to seek the true meaning of life and renounced his luxurious princely life and status. After years of meditation and seeking the truth, he became enlightened, achieved nirvana or salvation on a full moon day under the Bodhi tree.
He spent the rest of his life imparting knowledge to his disciples through his spiritual experiences. It is thus, based on his teachings that the religion Buddhism was established. He later came to be known as 'The Buddha,' a title bestowed to him which means 'the awakened one' or 'the enlightened one'. Also, known as Shakyamuni Buddha, the great monk is believed to have left his physical body on a full moon day.
Thus, although all full moon days are considered auspicious by the Buddhists. Vesak is considered as a most significant day celebrated to commemorate the important stages in the life of Lord Buddha. The day of the full moon to celebrate Buddha's birthday was officially decided at the first conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists which was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in May, in the year 1950. In the year 1999, the celebrations of the festival of Vesak was recognized as Buddha Purnima.
How Is Vesak Celebrated?
Vesak is celebrated by Buddhists and many Hindus in East Asian countries - India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Tibet and Bhutan and on this day people go back to the teachings of Buddha. The celebrations are followed with great zeal, enthusiasm and gaiety by the followers and devotees of Lord Buddha.
It's a time for chanting, meditation and engaging in good deeds. Many people gather for a ceremony by visiting the temple and some remains in the temple throughout the day spending their time contemplating on the knowledge of the Buddha. In some countries, people are seen in white attire to celebrate this day.
People sing the glories of the Buddha with devotional songs and hymns, offer prayers and food for the monks and listens to his knowledge and also offer incense sticks and flowers, lit candles and lamps, and engage in charity work, donating money, food and other things to help the poor and needy. In some of the temples, a small statue of Buddha, baby Buddha, decked with flowers is kept in a metal basin with water and the people visiting the temples pour water over the statue, which symbolizes a new and pure beginning.
In India, Lord Buddha is believed to be the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This year it is celebrated on 18 May, Saturday. It is an auspicious time to bring back into our lives the holy teachings and compassion of Lord Buddha and seek the truth of life and our existence. It should be a day for self-reflection and finding out one's way through the impermanence of life and walking our path to awakening through the great teaching of this great spiritual master.
Let us all observe and celebrate this auspicious day of Buddha Purnima as a day when we can rise above the mundane things in life and lift ourselves to a higher dimension of existence being soaked in the knowledge of what Buddha taught and by drawing inspiration from his life.
Wish you all a very happy and blessed Buddha Purnima!