Bangladesh Buddhist Association

Veshakhiya Punnama

The Veshakhiya Punnama, also known as the Buddha Punnama, is the thrice-blessed day of Buddhists. It falls on the full moon day of Vesakha (April-May). This is the greatest of all religious festivals of Buddhists all over the world, as the three memorable events (birth, enlightenment and the passing away) of the Buddha’s life took place on this day. One of the greatest spiritual teachers of mankind which Bharat (India) has produced is undoubtedly, Buddha. Edwin Arnold has fittingly called him the "Light of Asia". Buddha's message has traveled far and wide and captured the hearts and minds of billions of people outside Bharat (India) also. Siddhartha, the only son of Shuddhodana, the King of Kapilavastu situated at the foot of Himalayas, was prophesied by the royal astrologer to become either a famous emperor or a world-renowned ascetic. The father, anxious that his son should not take to the thorny path of a recluse, took extraordinary precautions to avoid every situation which would provoke such thoughts in his son's mind. Siddhartha grew of age without ever knowing what misery or sorrow was. One day the prince desired to see the city. The King ordered that the city should be all gay and grand, so that everywhere his son would meet with only pleasing sights. However, the prince had seen an old and crippled man, a sick man and a corpse being carried to the funeral ground and an ascetic on 4 different days on different occasion. it was Chenna, the charioteer, who explained all those 4 different situations to the prince Siddhartha. At last was an ascetic who clinched the thoughts of the young prince. He was then hardly twenty-nine. In that full bloom of youth, in the midnight of a full-moon day, he bade good-bye to his dear parents, his beloved wife Yashodhara and sweet little child Rahul and all the royal pleasures and luxuries, and departed to the forest to seek for himself answers for the riddles of human misery. For seven long years, Siddhartha roamed in the jungles, underwent severe austerities and finally, on the Vesakhiya Punnama Day, the supreme light of Realization dawned on him. He thereafter became Buddha, the Enlightened One in the full moon day of Vesakhiya. When he was an itinerant monk, he was called Gautama and now he became popular as Gautama Buddha. Buddha's overflowing love for the downtrodden and destitute acted as one of the greatest factors for social harmony and justice to the weaker sections in the society. As days passed, the effect of Buddha's teachings not only influenced the Hindu people in general but contributed decisively in elevating spiritually several races spreading over a vast region of the globe, including areas such as the present-day Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Brahmadesh, Siam, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Annam, Cochin, China, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Malaya, China, Korea, Japan, Tibet and Khotan in Central Asia. To this day most of these countries look upon Buddha as their supreme spiritual redeemer. Buddha passed into eternity after completing his Sahasra Chandra Darshana i.e., 1000 full moon days (80th year) on the full moon day of Vesakhiya - the day of his birth as also of his Enlightenment. And to this day, Buddha lives on as a beacon-light to billions the world over, who yearn for the peace and well-being of all living creation. Religious meetings, seminars, festivals and cultural functions depicting the life and teachings of the Buddha are held at every monastery and elsewhere under the auspices of various religious and cultural organizations in the auspicious Vesakhiya Punnama day. People take the vows of Pancha-Sila (five precepts) from the resident monk. They also observe the fast. Buddhists go to the monasteries in their best attires, offer the Buddha Puja (offering) in the morning with food, fruits and flowers, light candles and the burn incense before the image or statue of Buddha and pray homage to him. These offerings are accompanied with feasts given to the monks and alms distributed among the poor. In the evening also they visit monasteries, light candles and burn incense before the image of Buddha. The homage is also paid to the Bodhi (Pipal) tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment.

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