Buddh Purnima or Vaisakh Purnima, the birthday of Lord Buddha is celebrated with much religious fervor across most Buddhists nations around the world. What’s most interesting is that this is not only the day when Siddharth, who later came to be known as Buddha, the Enlightened One, was born, but it is also the day when he attained enlightenment under the Mahabodhi tree at Bodh Gaya and achieved nirvana (salvation). On this important day, Buddhist devotees visit temples, light candles and incense sticks, make offerings of sweets and fruits and pray before a statue of Lord Buddha. One can hear prayers, sermons and chanting of Buddhist scriptures throughout the day. Buddh Purnima usually occurs on the full moon night in the month of Vaisakh (either April or May). Countries following the lunar calendar therefore, fix the day accordingly and this year, it will fall on May 25. Here’s a peek at how some Asian countries celebrate the birthday of Lord Buddha:
As the birthplace of Buddha, this day has special significance in India. In particular, the cities of Sarnath, Gaya and Kushinagar, celebrate the day with much fervor, with hoards of Buddhist devotees visiting from across the world. Sarnath, the place where Buddha gave his first sermon, organises a huge fair on this day and the relics of the Buddha are taken out in a long procession for all to see. Devotees visit the various Buddhist temples, hold prayers and chant Buddhist scriptures. Offerings of fruits, sweets and candles are made to the statue of Lord Buddha.
Buddha Purnima is one of the biggest festivals in Sri Lanka and a great time to visit the place, though it can prove to be quite hot. On this day, houses and streets are adorned with candles and buntings and huge pandals are set up depicting scenes from the life of Buddha. In keeping with Buddha’s teachings, however, the celebrations are mostly subdued and focused on prayers and chanting of scriptures. Individuals, shops and establishments distribute food and sweets; eating non-vegetarian food is a big no-no; and songs called bhakti geetha are sung.
Known as Vesak or Buddha Jayanti in Thailand, the day is celebrated with much fervor. People visit Bangkok’s many wats (Buddhist temples); in particular Wat Phra Kaeo, which holds the Emerald Buddha and Sanam Luang, where religious ceremonies such as merit making, sticking of the gold leaf on Buddha’s statue, wein thein or walking around the statue of the Buddha are performed.
Cambodia and Vietnam
The beautiful countries of Cambodia and Vietnam have put their horrific pasts behind them and are finally opening up their borders to curious tourists. With a scattering of some of the most magnificent temple complexes ever to be built, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat is a particularly stunning complex of temples. Celebrated as Vesak Bochea in Cambodia, the day sees monks, young and old, take to the streets with flags, candles, lotus flowers and incense sticks. People take part in merit making and almsgiving and it is usually a public holiday.
Known as Vesak or Phat Dan in Vietnam, this day sees Buddhists devotees visiting pagodas in Hanoi, where they offer scented water to the relics of Buddha. It is usually a working holiday.
Pick your favourite and be a part of the festivities. With MakeMyTrip you can make flight plus hotel bookings to destinations in India and abroad.