Buddha Purnima 2023: A Day to Celebrate Buddha’s Life and Teachings
Written by Sanjay Kumar
Buddha Purnima, also referred to as Vesak, holds great significance for Buddhists worldwide as it marks the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha, the originator of Buddhism. The occasion is observed with great enthusiasm by various Buddhist sects and falls on the first full moon day (Purnima) of the Hindu month of Vaisakha, which corresponds to April-May in the Gregorian calendar. This year, the festival will be celebrated on May 5 (Friday).
Buddha Purnima 2023: Date and Time
- Purnima Tithi Begins – May 4, 2023 – 11:44 PM
- Purnima Tithi Ends – May 5, 2023 – 11:03 PM
- Date: Friday, 5 May, 2023
- Event Length: 1 Day
- Significance: Celebrates the birthday of Gautama Buddha
- Related to: Vesak
- Observed by: Buddhists in East Asia and Buddhists and some Hindus in South and Southeast Asia (as Vesak)
- Also called: Buddha’s Birthday, Buddha Purnima, Buddha Jayanti
Buddha Purnima: History & Significance
Lord Buddha’s exact birth and death dates are unknown, but it is believed that he lived between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. He was born as Prince Siddhartha in Lumbini, Nepal, and was prophesied to become a great king or a sage long before his birth. Until he was in his late twenties, Siddhartha lived a life of princely luxury, sheltered from the realities of human suffering. But upon witnessing sickness, old age, and death, he left his royal palace at the age of 29 to embark on a quest to discover the root of all suffering.
Over the next few years, Siddhartha explored various teachings, but it wasn’t until he went into deep meditation one night that he awoke with all the answers he had been seeking. At the age of 35, Siddhartha Gautama became the ‘Buddha’ or the ‘Awakened One.’ For the rest of his life, he taught the Dharma to guide others towards Enlightenment. Gautama Buddha passed away at the age of 80 in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.
It is said that all three major events in Gautama Buddha’s life – his birth, enlightenment, and salvation – occurred on the same day of the year. This day holds immense significance in Buddhism due to this coincidence. In May 1960, the World Fellowship of Buddhists decided to celebrate Buddha’s birth anniversary on the first full moon day of Vaisakha.
Buddha Purnima Celebrations
Buddha Purnima is a time of great joy and celebration for Buddhists around the world. The day is marked by prayer, meditation, and acts of kindness towards others. Devotees visit temples and offer flowers, incense, and candles to pay homage to the Buddha. Many also observe a vegetarian diet and refrain from alcohol and other intoxicants on this day. In some places, colorful processions are held to commemorate the Buddha’s life and teachings. The day is a reminder to follow the path of compassion, peace, and harmony as taught by the Buddha, and to strive towards attaining spiritual enlightenment.
During Buddha Purnima, individuals clean their households and decorate their entrances with a Swastika. Some also use Gangajal to purify their homes and eliminate negative energies. Additionally, people donate food and clothing to those in need as a part of the festivities.
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