The main sacred goal of Buddhism is to attain Nirvana, which means the spiritual liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth. Buddhism religion does not believe in the existence of god, image worship and suppression of women and the elevation of Brahmins. Its foundation lies in the philosophy that every one is equal and that nothing lasts forever and nothing happens by chance.
Buddhism is divided into two major sects- Huinayanas (travelers by a lesser vehicle) and Mahayana (travelers by a greater vehicle). Huinayana Buddhism flourished in Sri Lanka, Burma and South East Asia, while Mahayana Buddhism flourished in India, China, Japan, Tibet and Central Asia.
The festival Buddha Poornima is very popular occasion for Buddhists which falls on the full moon night in the month of Vaisakha (either in April or May). It is a celebration of birth anniversary of Lord Buddha. Many Pilgrims come from all over the world to Bodh Gaya to attend the Buddha Poornima celebrations.
The day is marked with prayer meets, sermons on the life of Gautam Buddha, religious discourses, continuous recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions, and worship of the statue of Buddha. The Mahabodhi Temple wears a festive look and is decorated with colorful flags and flowers.
In India, the festifal Buddha Purnima is celebrated with religious fervor at Bodh Gaya, Lumbini and Kushinagar and other parts of India. The Buddha Purnima celebrations at Sarnath attract large Buddhist crowds as Buddhists offer prayers in different Buddhist temples at Sarnath on this day.
The main annual ceremony for the entire Buddhist is the Buddha Purnima known in Sri Lanka as Wesak festival and in India as Buddha Jayanti. Buddhists in Burma, Thailand, Tibet, China, Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Mongolia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Nepal, Japan and quite a number of western Buddhists participate 'Vaisaka' Purnima Day religious activities in a festive mood.
Buddha Purnima 2017 in India : Traditionally, Buddha Purnima is a Buddhist festival and declared as a Central Government Holiday or Gazetted Holiday in India. The festival Buddha Purnima specially celebrates in those state where Buddhist live mainly like Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh.
Buddha Purnima celebration date:
On 2016: 21st May, 2016 (Saturday)
On 2017: 10th May, 2017 (Wednesday)
On 2018: 30th April, 2018 (Monday)
Birds are freed from cages. Fruits and clothes are distributed among the sick and abstinence is observed on eating meat. The Bodhi tree is revered. Its branches are decorated with garlands and colored flags. Rows of lamps are lit around the tree, and milk and scented waters are sprinkled on its roots.
The rituals include prayers, sermons on the life of Gautam Buddha, continuous recitation of Buddhist scriptures, meditation by monks and devotees, and worship of the statue of Buddha. Offerings of incense, flowers, candles and fruit are made by believers. On this Holy day the Buddhists bathe and wear only white clothes. Buddhists also reaffirm their faith in the five principles called Panchsheel.
Five principles (Panchsheel):
- Not to take life
- Not to steal
- Not to lie
- Not to consume liquor or other intoxicants
- Not to commit adultery
Buddha Jayanti celebrates the three most important events in Gautam Buddha's life. Pilgrims from all over the world come to Bodh Gaya in India to participate in the Buddha Poornima celebrations that highlight prayer meets, sermons and religious discourses, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions and worship of the statue of Buddha.
The celebration of Buddha Purnima is not only a festival but it is reminds us of Buddha's teachings of life. The day has a special significance not only among Buddhists but also among others. The Mahabodhi Temple wears a festive look and is decorated with colorful flags and flowers.