Happy Buddha Purnima; here’s how it is celebrated all around the world

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The birthday of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, is celebrated as Buddha Purnima across the world.

It falls on a full moon day in the month of Vaisakh (April/May) according to the Hindu calendar, that this year has fallen on April 30.

In Theravada Buddhism, it is also observed as the day Buddha, born as prince Siddhartha Gautama (c. 563-483 BCE), attained Nirvana (salvation) under the Mahabodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, Bihar, and as his death anniversary.

Buddha Purnima is a major festival celebrated with great enthusiasm in countries like Sri Lanka (where it is called Vesak), Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Thailand, Tibet, China, Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, Singapore and Indonesia, though celebrations vary from country to country.

Devotees visit temples, light candles and incense sticks, pray and offer sweets and fruits before the statue of Lord Buddha.

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Sermons on the life and teachings of Buddha are held and attended by followers in larger numbers. People usually dress in white and distribute kheer as according to Buddhist lore, on this day a woman named Sujata had offered Buddha a bowl of milk porridge.

In India, a large fair is held in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, a major Buddhist pilgrimage site where Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment.

The relics of the Buddha are taken out for public display in a procession. The day is also marked by prayers and festivities in Gaya and Kushinagar (UP) and across India, especially in Sikkim, Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, North Bengal (Kalimpong, Darjeeling, and Kurseong). Many Hindus believe Buddha to be the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

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