Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The founder of Buddhism, Lord Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) was born in 563 BC in Lumbini, Nepal as a son of Shuddhodhana, the king of Kapilavastu and his Queen, Mayadevi. Unfortunately, Mayadevi died only seven days after the birth of Siddhartha and so, He was brought up by his stepmother, Gautami. When Siddhartha was born, the astrologers had predicted that the prince would renunciate the comforts of the materialistic world and instead, opt for a path of his own. When the King Shuddhodhana came to know about the prediction, he became extremely cautious and he did not let Siddhartha even move out of the palace. It was the deepest desire of the king that his son would fulfill his father's dream one day by becoming a King.

Gautama Siddhartha led a very luxurious life as a prince and at the age of sixteen was married to Yashodara, who gave birth to a son named Rahula. One day, he witnessed illness, old age, death while moving on his chariot in his kingdom and decided to leave all the worldly pleasures to live the life of the ascetic.

After leaving his kingdom, Gautam Buddha lived the life of austere for six years and realizing that it was doing him no good, sat under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, where he achieved Enlightenment and came to be known as the 'Buddha' or 'Awakened One'. He is also referred to as the 'Sakyamuni Buddha'. For 45 years, Gautama Buddha travelled across Gangetic Plains and spread his message of spiritual life. He gave emphasis on the purification of mind, heart and ultimately, soul by following the Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths and the Five Perceptions. This path included the right speech, understanding, determination, deeds, efforts, awareness, thinking and living. As per Buddhism, if one follows these paths, one could overcome desires, which were the reason for all sorrows and miseries. Buddhism spread across the world and Gautama Buddha came to be regarded a revered saint.

After spreading his message to the world successfully, Buddha died at the age of 80 years in 483 BCE. at Kushinagar, India. Today, Buddhism has a strong following in various Asian countries and is gradually finding its feet in some of the western countries as well.

Buddha Purnima is observed to mark the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha. Buddha Purnima is celebrated in the month of Vaisakha of the Hindu calendar, on the night of the full moon during the month of April or May. To celebrate this auspicious day, people gather in Bodh Gaya. Bodh Gaya or Bodhgaya is a city in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous for being the place of Gautama Buddha's attainment of nirvana (Enlightenment).

Buddha Purnima is counted as one of the chief religious festivals of the Buddhists. The day is celebrated to commemorate three significant incidences of Lord Buddha’s life which took place on this single day. It is on the day of Buddha Purnima that Lord Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and achieved Nirvana during the time of his death. This day is of great importance to the Buddhists all over the country.

People pray and utter summons related to the life of Lord Buddha. Meditation is a major event that is observed on this day. Colourful processions are taken out to mark this auspicious day. The sacred Maha Bodhi tree is wonderfully decorated and decked up with fresh flowers and colourful flags. People light up their homes, streets and temples. Colourful lanterns and electric lights are used for decoration. Birds are freed from their captivity on this day. People distribute food, clothes and other basic amenities to the sick and poor people.

Apart from India, this festival is celebrated in other Buddhist countries like Laos, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Tibet, Burma, Bhutan, Thailand, Korea, Mongolia, China, Cambodia, Nepal and Japan.

A festival awaited by the Buddhists all over the globe, Buddha Purnima is celebrated with a lot of pomp and show.

By Miss Shreya Dhruv.
Shreya is a teacher at kindergarten classes of K. J. Bhalodia School at Rajkot, Gujarat.

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