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Buddha Purnima 2024: Date, History, Significance and Celebrations

Buddha Purnima 2024, also known as Buddha Jayanti or Vesak, is celebrated on Thursday, 23 May 2024. This significant Buddhist festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha. Observed with reverence across South, Southeast, and East Asia, the day is marked by prayer meetings, religious discussions, and cultural events, highlighting the profound teachings and enduring legacy of the Buddha.

Buddha Purnima 2024 – Date

Buddha Purnima, also known as Buddha Jayanti or Vesak, will be celebrated on Thursday, 23 May 2024. This day is a public holiday in several Indian states, including Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu Kashmir, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Buddha Purnima 2024: History

Buddha Purnima commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death (Mahaparinirvana) of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, who later became known as Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Born around 563-483 BCE in Lumbini, Nepal, Siddhartha Gautama was the son of King Śuddhodana and Queen Maya Devi. Raised in luxury, he was shielded from the sufferings of the world until he encountered old age, sickness, and death during excursions outside the palace. These encounters led him to renounce his royal life and seek enlightenment.

After years of ascetic practices and meditation under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India, Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became the Buddha. He spent the rest of his life teaching the path to Nirvana until his death at the age of 80.

Significance of Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima is a significant festival in the Buddhist tradition, celebrated across South, Southeast, and East Asia. It marks the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha, making it a day of great reverence for Buddhists worldwide.

The festival is observed according to the lunisolar calendars used in Asian countries, and the date varies each year in the Gregorian calendar, typically falling in April or May. In some leap years, it may extend into June. The public holiday for Buddha Purnima in India was first introduced by B. R. Ambedkar, a key figure in Indian history and a convert to Buddhism.

Celebrations of Buddha Purnima 2024

  • Rituals and Observances: On Buddha Purnima, Buddhists gather at viharas (monasteries) and engage in extended sessions of reading Buddhist sutras, resembling religious services. Idols of the Buddha are worshipped, prayer meetings are held, and devotees participate in religious discussions and group meditations.
  • Major Sites: In Bodh Gaya, the Mahabodhi Temple is adorned with colorful decorations, and special prayers are conducted under the Bodhi tree, where Buddha attained enlightenment. The national museum in Delhi also displays holy relics of the Buddha on this day.
  • Food Traditions: A popular dish prepared on Buddha Purnima is ‘Kheer,’ a sweet rice and milk pudding. This dish is symbolic and is shared among devotees as a part of the celebration.
  • International Celebrations: While Buddha Purnima is a major festival in India, it is also celebrated with great enthusiasm in countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other parts of South, Southeast, and East Asia. Each region has its own unique traditions and rituals to honor the Buddha.
  • Community and Cultural Events: Public talks, seminars, and cultural performances are often organized to spread the teachings of the Buddha and to reflect on his life and philosophy. These events aim to promote peace, compassion, and understanding among people.

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