Lord Buddha Jayanti – Buddha Purnima 2022
Buddha Purnima is on May 16 this year (in India and Nepal) or May 19 (for those in Southeast Asian countries). The date varies because May has two full moon days, and the Buddhist and Hindu lunar calendars can be interpreted differently. Buddha’s birth is celebrated as part of a festival called ‘Vesak,’ which combines the three key events of his life — his birth, enlightenment, and death. Join us on a deep dive into the fascinating life of this profound spiritual leader.
Buddha Purnima (also known as Buddha Jayanti) celebrates the birth of Prince Siddharta Gautama — a Nepali prince (circa 563-483 B.C.) who later went on to become known as the Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The word ‘Purnima’ is Sanskrit for ‘full moon’, which explains why it is celebrated on a full moon day, and ‘Jayanti’ means ‘birthday’. The word Buddha is given to those who attain ‘bodhi’ or wisdom, hence the name was ascribed to Siddartha once he attained enlightenment. It is commonly celebrated during the month of ‘Vaisakhi’ in Hindu/Buddhist lunar calendars.
However, Buddha’s followers never officially celebrated his birthday, though, for many centuries, festivals to honor Buddha were held. In fact, the celebration of Buddha Purnima was not formalized until modern times. It was only in May 1950, at the first conference of the World Fellowship of Buddhists in Colombo, Sri Lanka, that Buddha Purnima was officiated as a celebration during Vesak. It was agreed upon that the day of the full moon in May would be auspicious, due to Buddha attaining nirvana on a full moon day.
The reason why Buddhism began to gain popularity was due to the teachings of non-violence, respect for life, and a more equal approach to the role of women — concepts that were very much in keeping with both tradition and modern ideas of progress. Thus, many countries around the world began to become primarily Buddhist nations, especially in Asia. Buddhism itself branched into sub-sects as each culture adapted and assimilated the main tenets. Today, Buddhism is practiced in different forms all over the world, and it is especially inclusive because it does not celebrate any deities (as other religions do). The philosophical bent of Buddhism gives it popularity across various groups of people.