Buddha Purnima

Vesākha or Lord Buddha’s Day

Commonly known as Buddha Purnima toward South India, Lord Buddha’s day is known also known as Vesākha. It is called Purnima because he was born on a full-moon day. The day celebrates the birth of Gautama Buddha. He was born in Kapilavasthu, Nepal to King Sudhodana and queen Mahamaya, named ‘Siddhartha’. A group of priests predicted that he would either become a great king or a great sage.

His father wanted Siddhartha to be a great king and offered him a life of luxury, where he saw only the bright side. He created an artificial kingdom for Siddhartha, he never let him leave the palace so that he would never come to know about pain and suffering. The king got him married at the age of sixteen to his cousin Yaśodharā, and they had a child Rahula.

One day Siddhartha left the palace without the king’s knowledge to see the world outside, and several other times. Outside, he witnessed pain, sickness, suffering and death. Seeing horror after horror, Siddhartha wanted to know the truth about life. At the age of 29, he left the palace seeking the truth for several years without food and shelter. He was awakened with the truth after reaching the highest state of meditation. He decided to call them the four noble truths :

  1. The truth about suffering – It’s inevitable.
  2. The cause of suffering – yourself.
  3. There is an end to suffering.
  4. The eightfold path is the path to end suffering.

His teachings spread across the world through his disciples. He was called ‘Lord Buddha – the enlightened one’ by his disciples.

His birth and teachings are celebrated traditionally by Buddhists in India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar and more. The dates observed vary every year. In 2017, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, India, Bangladesh, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia celebrates on May 10th and Indonesia on May 11th.

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