Vaishakha Purnima and Buddha Purnima

Vaishakha Purnima (Baisakh Purnima) is also celebrated as Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha). It typically falls on the full moon day in the month of Vaishakha as per Indian Lunar Calendar, which corresponds to the month of April and May. Buddha Purnima is the biggest festival for the followers of Buddha around the world as it observes the birth of the noble soul. The month of Vaishakha is considered very sacred for the Hindus, and it is believed that observing fast on Vaishakha Purnima brings good fortune and health. Since Buddha is considered as the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the celebration of Buddha Purnima appears propitious for the followers of Buddhism as well as Hinduism.

Meditation and Buddha Purnima - image source PixaBay

Buddha Purnima 2023
◙ This year Buddha Purnima celebrated on Friday, 05th May.
◙ Purnima Tithi begins at 11:44 PM on 04th of May, and ends at 11:04 PM on 05th of May.

Gautama Buddha was born in Lumbini Province of Nepal, attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya town of India, and nirvana in Kushinagar district of India. This auspicious day of Buddha Purnima is also celebrated as the Vesak celebration that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and nirvana of the great soul. In India, Buddhists clad themselves with white clothes and abstain from any form of non-violence or Ahimsa. Candles and incense sticks are lighted, bringing in serenity in the atmosphere and consumption of non-vegetarian food is avoided, reminding the importance of every living form. Prayers are offered before the shrines of Lord Buddha and the spirit of gaiety is accelerated with colourful procession along the streets towards the monastery. Many pilgrims offer to make a visit to the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya, located in Bihar. Water is poured at the bottom of the Mahabodhi tree which symbolises the honouring of Lord Buddha’s enlightenment and sermons are held to remind people of the life and teachings of the holy soul.

Lord Buddha believed in compassion and empathy and this global message is spread amidst the devotees which serve as a reminder that humans need to lead a life filled with compassion and kindness for all. A large fair is organised at Sarnath, where Buddha delivered the first sermon of his life. As a true devotee, besides honouring Buddha, what one can do on that day is to start life with a new beginning by imbibing the teachings of Lord Buddha and start leading a life with mutual respect for all beings, infused with kindness.

On this day of Vaishakha Purnima, followers of Hinduism worship Lord Vishnu and perform Satya Narayan Puja to get his divine blessings. It is also believed that Lord Krishna asked his friend Sudama to observe fast on Vaishakha Purnima, in order to get bestowed with good health, wealth and prosperity. Devotees wake up early in the morning, take an early bath or a dip at the Holy Ganges before sunrise and observe fast for attaining prosperity in their life and achieve their desired goals. Devotees visit the temples of Lord Vishnu to offer prayers and for conducting Seva (selfless services) with utmost dedication, spirituality, and faith. The scriptures of the ‘Skanda Purana’ describes the significance of Vaishakha. It is believed that during this month Lord Vishnu emerges as the boon giver to the devotees and bless them for their good deeds in life. Since the month of Vaishakha is sacred with great religious significance, the full moon night of Vaishakha Purnima is considered very auspicious. Offerings are made to the Moon God in the evening and the ritual of ‘Arghya’ is performed, and a special prasad is prepared and offered to the deities, followed by serving the devotees.

On this day devotees devote themselves to perform ‘Daan Punya’ where food, clothes and money are distributed amongst the poor, and the devotees culminate in their mind a strive or promise to elevate themselves and walk towards the path of good karma and salvation. Fairs and festivals are also organised in different parts of the Indian subcontinent, Tibet, and some other parts of the world, revealing the jovial mood of the people.

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