As PM Narender Modi lights lamps to inaugurate the biggest International Buddhist Festival, Vesak in Sri Lanka, you must be wondering to know more about the centuries’ old tradition followed in Buddhism.
Vesak Festival is celebrated on the first full moon day in May. Vaishakh Poornima in Hindi and Vesak Poya in Pali, is essentially called Buddha Poornima and is marked with fun and fervor, in India, Nepal, Singapore, Japan and Sri Lanka.
On this day, three events coincide. Essentially, Prince Siddharth Gautam was born on Vesak Poya in Nepal to the Queen Mahamaya, under Sat trees. Though born in royal family, Siddharth was spiritually inclined and left his wife and kingdom, to find answer to agony and suffering of World.
It is believed that he attained Nirvana i.e. Enlightenment on a Vesak Poya Day, while meditating under a Bodhi Tree in Gaya. He was, thereafter, called Buddha, and he founded Buddhism, following the principles of Ahimsa (Non-violence) and Dhamma (Duty). His Middle Marg to attain salvation soon gained popularity and Buddhism spread all over India and neighboring countries.
Buddha continued to wander, preach and spread his message, till he attained the age of 80. He then announced his desire to leave his physical form. It is said that he attained Parinibbana (Parinirvana) at a Sal Grove of Malla Family, during the night of Vesak Poya.
These three major events of Buddha’s life: Birth, Niravana, and Parinibbana took place on full moon of Vaishakh (May month) and have thus gained utmost importance in Buddhism.
Every year, Buddhists celebrate Vesak Poya on a grand scale. Pandals are decorated with Jatak Kathas; free food, tea, coffee is distributed; lamps are lighted and religious songs are sung in temples.
In one such temple in Colombo, our Prime Minister inaugurated the International Vesak Festival along with Sri Lankan President Mathiripala Srisena and PM Ranil Wickremsinghe, yesterday. PM Modi is on a two day tour to Sri Lanka, to reinforce old ties with the Island Nation. In the meanwhile, we become witness to one of the most important tradition of Buddhism.