In India, the full moon day of May 25, 2013 was celebrated as Buddha Purnima or the birth anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni. This year marked 2,556 years since the Buddha’s birth.
The Buddha Purnima is celebrated on the full moon night in the month of April or May. The exact date is not fixed due to different lunar observances globally.
The festival celebrates peace and universal brotherhood across the world. The day is marked with sermons on the life of the Buddha, group meditation, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, and more.
Buddha Sakyamuni literally means “the wise one from the clan of the Sakya (the tiger).” He was born to a royal family as Prince Gautama Siddhartha who lived a luxurious and entertaining life, but as time flew by, he became restless and wished to see the world outside the walls of his palace.
When he was exposed to the sufferings of human life, he decided to abandon his royal title and pursue spiritual growth for awakening to a higher wisdom. He wandered around ancient India for years and finally vowed to meditate under a Banyan tree until enlightened.
It’s said that when Buddha Sakyamuni enlightened under the bodhi tree, he touched the ground to indicate that the earth would be his witness; the earth trembled in response—indicating that it would indeed bear witness to his triumph.
Upon awakening to the eternal truth of the universe, he spread his teachings across India to offer salvation to human beings through the path of non-violence, eternal truth, and compassion.
During his spiritual journey, Buddha Sakyamuni’s cousin Devadutta tried to kill him many times out of jealousy, but Sakyamuni forgave him out of compassion. A notorious brigand named Angulimal also tried to kill Sakyamuni, but ended up becoming his student.
The festival marks the divine experiential journey of Buddha Sakyamuni and spreads the message of seeking truth and practicing compassion.