Buddha Purnima is also called Buddha Day or Vesak marks the birthday, enlightenment and death of Gautam Buddha. The day is mainly observed by Buddhists and some Hindus in Asian countries including India, SriLanka, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.
Vesak or Wesak falls on the day of the full moon between April and May. Buddha Purnima falls on May 18. The day is celebrated by the devotees by listening to his teachings, remembering his compassion towards humanity and by indulging in charity work.
Significance of Buddha Purnima
For the Buddhists, every full moon day is auspicious but the most important one is the full moon in May as all three major events of the life of Buddha took place on this day in different years.
As per the chronological order of events, firstly Prince Siddhartha was born at Lumbini Grove on the full moon day in May. After that, he attained enlightenment under the shade of the Bodhi Tree and became Gautama Buddha at Bodh Gaya also on the full moon day of May. And lastly, at 80 years after teaching truth he passed away on the full moon day of May.
The day witnesses a lot of festivities. It is widely celebrated in India and Nepal as it is believed that Lord Buddha was born in the Lumbini region of Nepal and attained salvation in Kushinagar of India. Buddha’s followers dress in white, Buddha temples and distribute Kheer.
Other countries that mark this day are Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, the Philippines, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Vesak is originated from the Sanskrit word Vaisakha which is a name of the lunar month used in ancient India that falls between April and May. In 2000, the UN decided to internationally observe the day internationally at their headquarters and offices. Although the observance of Buddhists is century old, the decision to celebrate Vesak as Buddha’s birthday was marked in 1950.
To mark the most important full moon day of May, the believers go to the pagodas in procession to pour water at the foot of the sacred tree in remembrance of Buddha’s Enlightenment. Many also visit Buddha shrines, people also go to the Mahabodhi Tree in Bihar’s Bodh Gaya.