Buddha Purnima: Buddha’s Birthday, Enlightenment and Nirvana

Lord Buddha

Buddha Purnima, also known as Buddha Jayanti or Vesak, is the festival that commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha.

Buddha Jayanti is celebrated on the full moon day (Purnima) of the Hindu month of Vaisakha (between April and May on Gregorian Calendar). The festival is celebrated in different countries, including Sri Lanka, South Korea, and some parts of South Asia, as a public or gazetted holiday.

Gautam Buddha and Buddha Purnima

The origin and development of Buddha Purnima can be traced back to the ancient kingdoms of India. According to Buddhist scriptures, Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in Lumbini, a village in modern-day Nepal, on the full moon day of Vaisakha. His father was King Suddhodana and his mother was Maya Devi (died after 7 days of Gautama Buddha’s birth).

Gautam Buddha later renounced his luxurious life and practiced meditation to seek enlightenment. After six years of intense meditation, he attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, in the Indian state of Bihar. Gautama Buddha then spent the rest of his life teaching his followers the path to enlightenment, which is known as the Eightfold Path.

Buddha Purnima also commemorates the death of Gautama Buddha, who attained Nirvana, or the ultimate state of liberation, on the same day in Kushinagar, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The festival symbolizes the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and the celebration of Buddha’s life and teachings.

Buddha: The ninth Avatar of Lord Vishnu

तत: कलौ सम्प्रवृत्ते सम्मोहाय सुरद्विषाम् ।
बुद्धो नाम्नाञ्जनसुत: कीकटेषु भविष्यति ॥

In the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Añjanā, in the province of Gayā, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist.

Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.24

The ninth avatar of Lord Vishnu is believed to be Lord Buddha. In Hindu Dharma, Lord Vishnu is considered the preserver and protector of the universe, and he is said to take on different forms or avatars to restore cosmic order and protect humanity from evil.

Lord Buddha is believed to have incarnated as the ninth avatar of Lord Vishnu to spread the message of non-violence and compassion towards all living beings. The story goes that Lord Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha in present-day Nepal, and after witnessing the sufferings of life, he renounced his kingdom to seek enlightenment.

He then attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree through deep meditation and began teaching the path to liberation from suffering, which is now known as Buddhism. The idea is not accepted widely in South India, which believes Lord Balarama is the 8th incarnation and Lord Krishna is the 9th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. (Check this article on avatars of Lord Vishnu)

Teachings of Gautam Buddha

Lord Buddha

Gautam Buddha’s teachings revolve around the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Four Noble Truths are the foundation of Buddhism. They are:

  1. Dukkha: The truth of suffering. Buddha taught that life is full of suffering and dissatisfaction.
  2. Samudaya: The truth of the cause of suffering. Buddha taught that the root cause of suffering is craving and attachment.
  3. Nirodha: The truth of the cessation of suffering. Buddha taught that it is possible to end suffering by eliminating craving and attachment.
  4. Magga: The truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. Buddha taught that the Noble Eightfold Path is the path that leads to the end of suffering.

The Noble Eightfold Path is a set of eight practices that lead to enlightenment. They are:

  1. Right understanding: Understanding the Four Noble Truths and the nature of reality.
  2. Right intention: Developing good intentions and attitudes.
  3. Right speech: Speaking truthfully and kindly.
  4. Right action: Behaving ethically and compassionately.
  5. Right livelihood: Earning a living in an ethical way.
  6. Right effort: Making an effort to develop good qualities and eliminate negative ones.
  7. Right mindfulness: Cultivating mindfulness and awareness.
  8. Right concentration: Developing the ability to concentrate and focus the mind.

Buddha’s teachings emphasize the importance of compassion, wisdom, and mindfulness. He taught us that by developing these qualities, we can end suffering and find lasting peace and happiness.

Significance of Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima holds great importance for Buddhists, as it is a day to reflect on Gautama Buddha’s teachings and their relevance to our daily lives. Buddha’s teachings revolve around the ideas of progress, non-violence, respect for life, and the path to enlightenment. These teachings have influenced the lives of millions of people worldwide and continue to inspire those seeking spiritual growth.

Buddha Purnima is a day of great significance for Buddhists around the world. It is a day to honor and remember the Buddha’s life, teachings, and the path to enlightenment. Many Buddhists use this day to reflect on their own practice of the Dharma and renew their commitment to the Eightfold Path.

Buddha Purnima 2023: Date and Pujha Bidhi

Lord Buddha | source: https://www.eastmojo.com/festival/2021/05/26/buddha-purnima-2021-wishes-greetings-and-famous-quotes-of-lord-buddha/

According to Drik Panchang, this year Vaisakhi Buddha Purnima is on May 5, 2023. The Purnima Tithi begins at 04:14 AM on May 5 and ends at 03:33 AM on May 6. On this holy day,

  • Clean your home after you wake up in Brahma Mahurata,
  • Take a bath,
  • Cleanse the home by using Gangajal,
  • Light Candles and decorate using flowers,
  • Prepare Swostika Chinna made up of Haldi, Roli, and Kumkum in front of the home,
  • Near the Bodhi tree, light a candle and pour milk,
  • If possible donate clothes and offer food for needy persons, and
  • Listen, Chant, and Recite the teaching of Lord Buddha.

Celebrations around the world

The Birth Anniversary of Gautam Buddha is celebrated all around the world. It is a public holiday for some countries, some nations only close government offices on the festival day, and in most South Asian nations non-vegetarian food is not allowed throughout the month. King Ashoka is the crucial person who spread Buddhist teachings throughout Asia.

Asian Nations

CountryNamed asFood and DecorationCelebration
BangladeshBuddho Purnima (বুদ্ধ পূর্ণিমা)Bengali sweets and decorative candlesSpeeches, lighting candles, and reciting jewels and precepts
BhutanBuddha Parinirvana (Saga Dawa)Strict vegetarian meals and wear national dressPrayers and light butter lamps
China佛誕 (Fódàn) or 衛塞節 (Wèisāi jié, “Vesak Day)Incense and LanternsLight incense and offer food to the monk
Hong Kong佛誕 (Fódàn)LanternsLit Lantern and bath Buddha idols
IndiaBuddha PurnimaKheer and colored decorativesMeditations, Visiting the Buddha monastery, and a big celebration at the Mahabodhi temple of Gaya
IndonesiaWaisakIncenseA parade from Mendut to Boroburdur
JapanKanbutsu-e (Japanese: 灌仏会) or Hanamatsuri (Flower Festival)Flowers and special beverages called ama-chaBuddha idol bathing with special flower juice and Lion dancing
MalaysiaWesak DayColorful flags all over the nationPrayers, Chanting, and freeing the caged animal
MongoliaIkh DuichenCandlesPrayers
MyanmarThe full moon of KasunDecorating large PagodasWatering Bodhi tree, music, dance, and chanting
NepalSwānyā Punhi (स्वांया पुन्हि)KheerAttending Buddha Sutras
North KoreaChopailLanternsLantern festival
PhilippinesKaarawan ni BuddhaIncense and LanternBathing Buddha Idol
SingaporeVesakFlags and flowersOfferings to Buddha Temple
South KoreaBucheo-nim o-shin nalA dish named Sanchai Bibimbap and a lot of LanternsFree meals/tea, and Lantern festival
Sri LankaVesakCandles, paper and bamboo lanterns, Pandols, and Electric lightsFree meals and singing Bakthi Gee
TaiwanGuódìng Fúdàn JiéFlowersFragrant water pouring on Buddha
ThailandVisakha PujaCandlesHear sermons, praying, and donations
VietnamPhật Đản (佛誕, “Birthday of the Buddha”), or “Ngày Hội Hoa Phật” (Buddha’s Lord Flower Festival Day)Flowers and CandlesLantern Parades

Non-Asian Nations

CountryNamed asFood and DecorationCelebration
AustraliaBuddha’s birthdayVariety of vegetarian foodCultural performances held at various places
BrazilHanamatsuriJapanese delicacyParades and gatherings on plazas
CanadaVesak: Buddha’s birthdayMulti-cultural foods from AsiaBuddhist theme events and cultural acts
United StatesBuddha’s birthdayMostly Japanese, Korean, and Sri Lankan foodLotus Lantern Parade

Prasads and Offerings

Sujata offering Kheer to Lord Buddha (source)

Buddha Purnima is an auspicious occasion celebrated by Buddhists as well as all who want to reflect the divine teachings of Lord Budhha. One of the most popular Prasads made and offered during this time is Kheer. It is a sweet dish prepared using rice, milk, sugar, and dry fruits.

In India and Nepal, this sweet rice porridge is first offered to Lord Buddha, then to monks, before it is distributed amongst family and friends.

The popularity of Kheer can be attributed to an interesting story. A milkmaid named Sujata was the first person to offer Lord Buddha a bowl of Kheer. She mistakenly believed Buddha to be a tree spirit that had granted her wish of having a child. This incident has since been immortalized as a testament to the benevolence of Lord Buddha.

On Buddha Purnima, devotees offer various items to Lord Buddha as a mark of respect and devotion. Lord Buddha Statue is kept in a bowl filled with water and flower petals, especially in Buddhist Nations.

Honey, joss sticks, candles, fruits, and flowers are also offered while singing hymns and devotees release birds, animals, and insects from cages as a symbolic act of liberation.

Buddha Purnima is a day to celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and passing of the Buddha, as well as the teachings he left behind. The day is celebrated with great fervor and devotion, and it is a time for Buddhists to come together and renew their commitment to the Dharma.

Yogic culture regards Buddha Purnima as a time to take a moment to reflect on the Buddha’s teachings and the path to enlightenment. And if you are so inclined, consider visiting a local Buddhist temple or participating in a ceremony to honor this special day.

Whether you are a Buddhist or not, Buddha Purnima can be a time for reflection and contemplation. It is a reminder that we all have the potential for enlightenment and that we can all work towards a more compassionate and peaceful world.

Let’s move together on the path of the transformative journey together, where there are no teachers, no preachers, just questions that have answers inside them. And by the end let’s destroy the ignorance that covers the mind. Let’s try Manonasa together.