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Buddha Purnima

 Buddha Purnima
The festival of Buddha Purnima, also known as Vesak and Buddha Jayanti, is celebrated by the followers of Buddhism in a large number of South Asian and South-east Asian countries. Followers belonging to different traditions and places refer it with different names. Fundamentally, the essence of festival is same for everyone. Though, many believe it be a commemoration of birth of Lord Buddha, in real, it commemorates for his birth as well as his spiritual enlightenment (Nirvana) and passing away (Parinirvana).

 Time of Celebration
The date of celebrating Buddha Purnima varies, because different followers residing in different places follow varied traditional measures of determining it. Those referring Buddhist calendar celebrate it on a full Moon Uposatha day which usually falls in either fifth or sixth month.  Those referring Chinese lunar calendar celebrate it on the eighth day of the fourth month. According to Hindu calendar, it falls on the full Moon night of the month of Vaisakha. According to Georgian calendar, date of celebration varies from one year to other, but it usually falls in either April or May.

Though, celebrating different significant events of life of Buddha and Buddhism has remained prevalent from centuries, it was in the Conference of World Fellowship of Buddhists in 1950 held in Sri Lanka that it was officially decided that Vesak or Buddha Purnima would be celebrated as in commemoration of Lord Buddha’s birthday. It was confirmed to be the day when Buddhists all around the world would mark this day in remembrance of those extremely special events of the life of Buddha, including his birth, Nirvana, and Parinirvana.

Major Celebrations
Bodh Gaya, the place where Lord Buddha attained Nirvana (supreme enlightenment) and the place where he attained Parinirvana (passed away), becomes the most sacred and prominent place during the festival time. People from all across the world holding utmost belief in Buddhism, Lord Buddha, and his teachings arrive here to be a part of the most revered Buddha Purnima celebrations. Here, special prayer meetings are conducted under Bodhi tree, under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment.

Other that Bodh Gaya, Lumbini and Kushinara are the other important places significantly associated with the life of Buddha. Other than that, Sarnath which is considered to be the capital of Buddhism draws devotees in large numbers on this special day.

Rituals and Celebrations
1. As a part of rituals, all the followers of Buddhism are requested to be a part of communal celebrations which take place in the Buddhist temples. All of them are asked to arrive at those temples before dawn, and be a part of the hoisting ceremony of Buddhist flag. People usually dress in white, which is a colour of purity.

2. Devotees sing hymns in sync admiring Buddha, Dharma (Buddha’s teachings), and Sangha (Buddha’s disciples). Also, they participate in discourse session in which various important principles and teachings of Buddhism and Buddha are delivered. Group meditation, continuous worship of Lord Buddha, and religious processions are other significant events which keep the day engaged.

3. In some Buddhist temples, a small baby statue representing for Lord Buddha is placed. Devotees visiting the place pour in some water over that, as it symbolizes for a new and positive beginning in life. Other than that, flowers and fruits are offered, and incense sticks and candles are lightened up in adoration of Lord.

4. Conventionally, celebrating festivals in Buddhism is more about having peaceful joy rather than over-the-top amusement. That is quite prevalent amongst its followers all across the globe, and gets reflected in the way they celebrate this festival. They illuminate their houses, streets, markets, and temples with fancy colourful lights and elements of decorations.

5. Engaging into generous activities on this day is considered to derive extreme virtue. People extend their hands to facilitate financial and non-financial help to those organizations which are engaged in generous acts of improvement of life of poor, sick, elderly, and needy. Some buy and liberate those animals which have been caged.

6. Kheer, a sweet dish, made up of milk and rice is served on the day. That is done in order to recollect one incidence from the life of Buddha when he was served with it by Sujata, a maiden.

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