Buddha Jayanti, also known as Buddha Purnima is a major festival for Buddhists celebrating the birth of Gautam Buddha. It marks Siddhartha Gautama’s birth, enlightenment, and transcendence—the revered founder of Buddhism.
This annual commemoration aligns with the full moon day of the Vesakha lunar month, typically falling within the months of April or May in the Gregorian calendar.
As it is one of the major festival among 8 festivals in Nepal, in this article, we will highlight the Buddha Jayanti, history, roots, celebration, many more.
Significance and Importance: Inner Reflection and Unity
Buddha Jayanti transcends being a mere date on the calendar; it’s a time for deep introspection and spiritual connection. For Buddhists around the world, this day symbolizes the journey from ignorance to enlightenment. Similarly, it is to remind us of the impermanence of life and the need to cultivate compassion and wisdom.
With a rich history and profound teachings, this festival holds great significance not only for Nepal but for followers of Buddhism worldwide.
It is a day to re-kindle the flame of mindfulness and renew commitments to following the Noble Eightfold Path. But before that, do you know the history of Lord Buddha?
History and Origins: Tracing the Origins
The origins of Buddha Jayanti can be traced back to ancient Nepal, where Siddhartha Gautama was born in Lumbini 623 BC ago in the lap of Kapilvastu district. As the offspring of King Suddhodhana and Queen Mayadevi, Siddhartha’s birth plays out as a cosmic scene.
Before the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, it is said that Queen Mayadevi saw a dream, where a white elephant, splendidly adorned with six resplendent tusks, elegantly sauntered into her realm.
The chronicles then describe how Siddhartha gracefully made the seven heavenly steps after his birth, saying, “This marks the end of my cycles of rebirth,” with a profound sense of finality.
Siddhartha Gautam lived a luxurious life in the palace, enjoying all the comforts it offered. But one day, he had a powerful realization. He wandered through the city and saw people suffering from sickness, old age, and death. This made him understand that life had a lot of hardships.
This moment changed everything. Siddhartha decided to leave behind his princely life and embark on a new journey. At the age of 29, he left the palace and became a monk. He spent a lot of time meditating under a special tree called the Bodhi tree.
During this time, he realized that the main cause of suffering was our desires and greed. He believed that if we let go of these desires, we could find peace. This insight led to his Enlightenment, known as the Buddhatto.
After six years of rigorous meditation and asceticism, at the age of 35, Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became known as Lord Buddha.
His teachings spread all over the world, forming the foundation of Buddhism’s wisdom.
Buddha Jayanti Observances and Celebrations:
The day commences with devotees visiting temples and monasteries, making offerings and engaging in prayer and meditation. Colorful processions, teachings, and Dharma discussions mark the occasion. Acts of kindness, such as releasing captive animals, are common, reflecting the compassion espoused by Buddha.
Celebration in Kathamndu:
One of the focal points of celebration is the iconic Swayambhunath Stupa, a revered World Heritage Site. The festivities commence at the break of dawn, as an unceasing stream of faithful pilgrims converges upon this sacred monument.
The air is filled with an aura of reverence as devotees offer their heartfelt prayers and circumambulate the stupa, bestowing their offerings of radiant butter lamps, fragrant incense, grains of rice, coins, and delicate blossoms.
The Swayambhunath Stupa is adorned with the religious paintings portraying the serene visage of Lord Buddha. These images serve as vivid embodiments of the timeless teachings that have transcended the ages.
The magnificent Bouddhanath Stupa, another cherished UNESCO World Heritage Site, displays a matching celebration. In this location, a dazzling procession fills the streets and embodies Buddha Jayanti. This magnificent parade, headed by an elephant with a Buddha picture on its brow, winds its way through the streets, capturing the attention and hearts of those who witness it.
Celebration in Lumbini
As the day of Buddha Jayanti dawns, Lumbini comes alive with an array of diverse programs and processions that pay homage to the enlightened sage.
The Maya Devi Temple, the beating heart of Lumbini, acquires an ethereal glow as it is adorned with numerous shimmering lights, providing an alluring spectacle that represents the purity of the event.
Among the many ceremonies that take place, one that is particularly beautiful involves the mounting of a statue of Lord Buddha on a grand chariot. This statue enters a solemn procession, accompanied by the powerful voices of ladies singing devout songs and the melodic melodies of musicians.
The devoted voices of Buddha’s disciples fill the streets as they join in on the procession’s collective prayer and fervent cries.
The procession’s journey comes to a conclusion at the monastery, where an aged monk speaks to the crowd and discusses how Buddhism’s teachings are still relevant in today’s society. This talk serves as an important reminder of the timeless wisdom that Buddha imparted upon humanity.
Buddha Jayanti stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Lord Buddha and his teachings. The festival serves as a reminder that even in our fast-paced world, the essence of Buddha’s teachings can guide us.
We can strive to create a world where love and brotherhood prevail, echoing his profound message throughout the ages.