Buddha Purnima: Significance, Importance and Celebration

The Buddha jayanti is also known as Vaisakha or Vesak

Insight bureau: The festival of Buddha Purnima is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, who later became the founder of Buddhism and known as Gautam Buddha. The Buddha jayanti is also known as Vaisakha or Vesak.

Every year, it is celebrated in April or May on the full moon day of the Baisakh month. According to the Yogic culture, Buddha Purnima is considered important as this is the third purnima after the earth moves to the northern run to the sun.

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At first, Gautama Buddha witnessed three things, namely an old man, a dead body and sick man. These three sights made him understand life is full of sorrow. Buddha Purnima, is seen as Buddha’s day of enlightenment, After almost eight years of very body-destroying efforts,  Gautama had become very weak. For four years he had been a samana. The main sadhana for a samana was to walk and never seek food-just waking and fasting. This destroyed his body almost to a point of death.

At this time, he came to the river Niranjana, which as many other rivers in India today, has dried up and disappeared. This river was actually just a large stream with knee-high water flowing swiftly. He tried to cross the river but half-way across, his body was so physically weak that he could not take one more step. But he is not the kind to give up so he just held on to a dead branch that was there and just stood.

All it takes is that it should become the only priority. Then it is just one moment. The sadhana, the effort is just for this. Because people are so scattered all over the place, it takes such a long time just to gather them and make them into one organic whole. People are identified with so many things. So the first thing is to gather yourself. Only if this human being is fully gathered as one whole, we can do something with him.

So it was just that one moment. He became fully enlightened as the full-moon was just rising. He sat there for a few hours and then he got up. Seeing the intensity of his sadhana as a Samana, over the years, five co-travelers had gathered around him who looked up to him. The first thing Buddha said when he got up was, “Let’s have dinner.” These five were aghast. They thought he had fallen. They felt totally disappointed. Gautama said, “You are missing the whole point. It is not about fasting, it is about realizing. The full moon has risen within me. Look at me. Look at the change in me. Just be here.” But they went away. Out of his compassion, after a few years, he went in search of these five people one by one and put them on the path of enlightenment.

Kheer is the most popular prasad made and offered during Buddha Purnima. The prasad is mainly prepared using rice, milk, sugar and dry fruits. The Kheer Prasad is first offered to Lord Buddha, then offered to monks and later distributed amongst family, friends and also those who are less fortunate. The story behind the popularity of Kheer is an interesting one. It is said that a milkmaid named Sujata offered Lord Buddha a bowl of Kheer and his six years of asceticism after she wrongly believed him to be a tree-spirit that had granted her wish of having a child.

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