“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” – Gautama Buddha
Buddha Purnima is a well-known festival celebrated by Buddhists all over the world. They celebrate the birth, enlightened life and death of Gautama Buddha who taught us that loving each other and believing in peace is the best remedy for all problems. This year, Buddha Purnima was celebrated on May 10th with festive colors and activities.
West Bengal’s two highlighted cities are Darjeeling and Kalimpong. These areas are not only famous for their hillside views but also for their large Buddhist population. It is, indeed, a very special day and the West Bengal CM has also declared it as a National Holiday around the country.
As the historians go, Gautama Buddha lived on earth around 563 to 483 B.C. It is believed that his birth place is Lumbini, Nepal and he died in Kushinagar at the age of 80. India is also known for its different religions and their beauty of celebrating them together. For this very special day of Buddha Purnima, the Government has granted a full day vacation for all schools, offices, and banks.
How is the day celebrated?
Buddha Purnima starts with the Buddhist families reciting their early morning prayers. The day continues by decorating the Buddha statues with flowers and ribbons. They also wear clothes made of bright silk with tribal ornaments. Also, people of different age, men, and women carry their Tripitakas (holy book) above their head and walk all the way to the Pagodas.
In Kalimpong and Darjeeling, many Buddhists from other states also come and join in a rally and march up to the Pagodas carrying Tripitakas and banners with them. Some also carry the statues of Buddha in a well-decorated cart. You can also see men and women singing hymns in front of the rally along with the monks. This walk is a symbol of sacrifice to honor Buddha’s sacrifices.
Lastly, they all recite the holy book and avoid any type of non-vegetarian food or alcohol on this day. Moreover, many cultural programs are noticed. You can end this day by going to the roof and seeing a big moon over your head glowing with all its glory. Just like the Buddha said, the moon cannot be hidden long because it shines out with all its light to represent Buddha’s glory.
On this very special day, monks recite the Tripitakas with all the followers by their side. Gautama Buddha’s statues are positioned around the sites where the Buddhists can come and pour water over the statues of Buddha to show him respect and honor. This action is also known as a symbol of a new beginning. Also, the true devotees of Buddha distribute the love by sharing their foods, clothes, and money with the poor. Some also buy caged animals and set them free as a symbol of setting their past free as well.
Buddha Purnima 2017 was celebrated with happiness, colors and new hopes in Darjeeling. One could see the true meaning of bonding and life from these people. If you haven’t seen this love before, be sure to check it out next Buddha Purnima which will leave you mesmerized.