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Vesak Day 2017 - Buddha Purnima Festival

Last Updated: 2/10/2017 2:30:11 PM

buddha, purnima, vesak, wesak, 2017, date

Buddha Purnima is celebrated to memorialize the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. It is celebrated on a full moon day of Hindu month Vaishakha. Not only in India, it is celebrated all over the world. On this holy day, devotees visit the temples and shrines of Lord Buddha. Read this article to know more about this occasion...

Buddha Purnima 2017 - A Day for Reconciliation With Righteousness

Vesak 2017 date is May 10. This festival is also known as Buddha Purnima. It is always celebrated on the full Moon day. This decision had been taken in a Conference of the World of Buddhists. This was the 1st Conference of its kind, held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This was convened in May 1950, whereby all the nations were told to observe a holiday on the full Moon of the May. In case there are two full Moons in the month of May, then some people celebrate Buddha Purnima twice.

Facts of Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima or Vesak is the most sacred and holy day for the Buddhists all over the world. It is the day when Lord Buddha was born. Buddha Purnima is most auspicious not only because Gautam Buddha was born on that day, but also attained enlightenment on the same day and died, after achieving Nirvana on Buddha Purnima. There are many legends that say that even Lord Buddha's wife Yashodhara, his horse Kanthaka, and his charioteer Channa, were born on the same day.

When Gautam Buddha was born, astrologers predicted that he would either make an excellent ruler or an enlightened monk who would direct the path of salvation to the world.

A Journey to Enlightenment- Life of Lord Buddha

Vesak reminds us of the great life of Gautam Buddha. From the age of 29, he began his quest to find answers to life that were unexplainable. He tried to expose himself to the harshness and brutality that a person had to endure during his/ her tenure on Earth. He wanted to know the truth. As a young boy, Gautam or as he was formerly called, Siddhartha, was fortunate enough to be devotedly loved, admired and cherished. He got all the luxuries that any person would envy to get. None of his demands were left unfulfilled. Buddha was a good lad. His father and everyone in his palace knew and hoped that one day he would make a great king. A king, who could expand the Lumbini empire till the end of the world.

The only thing missing in his life (of which he was oblivious) was honesty. No one in his court was ever honest with him. They showed him only the bright side of life and he couldn't imagine the two sides of the coin. So when he did discover that there was much more than the protective walls of his palace, his servants, horses and grand meals, he felt disheartened and desired to know more. So strong was Lord Buddha's thirst for truth that he abandoned his wife, child and kingdom and decided to take up life as a sage. He trained himself under the guidance of two Hindu ascetics. After sometime, he decided to move on in his quest as he felt he'd learnt enough from them.

He then joined another group of sages who practiced self- mortification and abstain from worldly pleasures which included basic requirements like food. After days of meditation, Gautam Buddha grew very weak. Sujata, a maiden, saw him and anxiously offered him some milk porridge. Buddha regained his strength and concluded that this method would not help him. So he chose the Middle path. He set off alone to find the truth. Under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Apart from being a righteous sage, Lord Buddha, instead of satisfying himself with the wisdom he had procured, decided to spread it to the world. Lord Buddha had once said, "Just as treasures are uncovered from the Earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue." Probably while the Buddha was saying these words, he was reflecting on the characteristics that one should aim to attain. But we can clearly see that he not only preached, he also practiced what he preached.

Rituals and Piety observed on Buddha Purnima

Lord Buddha was a great and upright person and in no time he had a huge crowd of admirers and followers who desired to be like him. Even today, his disciples are scattered all over the globe, and on Buddha Purnima, they all gather at various Buddhist temples and monasteries and worship him. Most people spend a major part of the day or the entire day in these temples on Buddha Purnima. All the followers are required to gather at the temples before dawn for the flag hoisting ceremony. As the flag is hoisted, worshippers unanimously sing hymns of the triple gems: The first gem is Lord Buddha himself. The second gem is Dharma. Dharma refers to the teachings he has imparted to the world. The third gem is Sangha. As the word suggests, this refers to his companions or his disciples.They hear the Lama's chant prayers and give sermons on the life and teachings of Buddha. So pure is this day, that people offer food to the poor. They take special care of elderly people. Animals are not killed on this day. People consume only vegetarian food on Buddha Purnima. In the temples and monasteries, a statue of a baby Buddha is located. It is placed in a tureen, filled with water. This vessel is lavishly ornamented with flowers. Worshippers pour water over it, as it symbolises purity and chastity. It also symbolises a new beginning. Buddhists normally wear white garments on this day. Ceremoniously, caged animals are set free, in the memory of Buddha's concern for living creatures. All the monasteries have a wooden Chakra of Dharma (Dharma Wheel), on which the eight spokes of Lord Buddha are embossed. Believers rotate those wheels as the Priests read out the spokes.

Celebrations on Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima is celebrated in most parts of Asia which includes, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, China, Singapore, Sri Lanka and India.. In almost all these countries Buddha Purnima is celebrated on the same day as in India. The manner of celebration differs in some ways, but the message is the same. The Chinese calendar is read a little differently so they do not follow the prescribed day of Buddha Purnima with the other nations.

Apart from all the rituals and ceremonies carried out on Buddha Purnima, the decoration for this occasion is a sight to behold. In Sri Lanka, where Buddha Purnima is celebrated twice a year, homes and street corners are beautified with "Pandols". These Pandals have intricate designs made on them. They also depict the famous Jataka Tales. Besides, the dazzling lanterns allure passersby toward them. India is the land from where Buddhism emerged and spread to the world. Some of the Indian States like Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bodhgaya and Ladakh, celebrate this festival with the same spirit. Eating Kheer (sweet rice porridge) on Buddha Purnima is a tradition that is followed in the memory of Sujata, the girl who offered Lord Buddha some milk porridge when he was starving.

People gather at the monasteries with flowers and candles. They give them to the monks. This is again very symbolic. After a short span of life, the beautiful flowers wither and candles burn out. This is the truth of life. We live for a short span of time. But, we will perish and our body will decay someday. This is the cycle of life.

Buddha Purnima & Its Message

Buddha Purnima or Vesak has a lot of religious significance for the Buddhists. But the message it leaves behind it for the entire mankind. In this era, when terrorism and war has cast its canopy of gloom - political leaders have created agendas that are most unfavourable for the commoners, when victims of rape, torture and humiliation are crying for justice - competition in employment and education is compelling people to the last resorts and when the nations with highly equipped war weapons, oil, economic power are given priority - It is now that we need to practice the eightfold paths taught by Lord Buddha. It is now that we need to practice the eight fold paths taught by Lord Buddha. It is now that we need peace and harmony on Earth. On this Buddha Purnima, people must make it a point not to merely perform the rituals. It is the perfect time when Lord Buddha's teachings can save the world. It is the perfect time for people to attain enlightenment. It is the perfect time when each one can attempt to be like the Buddha and trod on the prints that he has left behind.

Happy Buddha Purnima !

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