Lord Buddha was born on the Full Moon Day in the month of Vaisakh, years ago in 563 BC. Buddha Mahotsav is held every year at Sarnath in Varanasi to celebrate the birthday of Lord Buddha. Buddha Purnima is also known as Buddha Jayanti and celebrated by the people with the huge traditional and religious passion. Buddha Purnima is held in the Hindu Month of Vaisakh (means April or May).
He got enlightenment and Nirvana (salvation) at the same day he was born. That’s why this day is also marked as the Mahaparinirvana (death anniversary) of the Gautam Buddha.
History of Traditional Beginnings :
It is worth noting that all the rituals that have come in Buddhism are never taught by Lord Buddha instead he was opposed to all rituals and his enlightenment was to get rid of all these which have fastened man uselessly. The ceremonial offerings and rituals that are performed by followers of Buddhism are much inherited from local customs with passage of time. Cultures have great tendencies to assimilate everything that comes into its process of development. All ceremonies related to Buddhism are attributed to the same process.
History of Buddha Mahotsav in Varanasi :
Buddha Mahotsav was first started at the Sarnath in the year 1998, hundreds years after time of Buddha by UP tourism in collaboration with Ministry of Tourism of Government of India. K. R. Narayanan was the president of India at that time and he had inaugurated the Buddha Mahotsav.Since then Buddha Purnima has been taking place it is an initiative to attract all religions into the fold of Indian Culture and to promote tourism.
Buddha Purnima 2018 :
Buddha Purnima 2016 would be celebrated by the people on Sunday, 29th of April, 2018.
Buddha Purnima 2017 :
Buddha Purnima 2015 was celebrated by the people on Wednesday, 10th of May 2017.
Buddha Purnima 2016 :
Buddha Purnima 2014 was celebrated by the people on Saturday, 21st of May, 2016.
Significance of Buddha Mahotsav :
Sarnath is a famous tourist place in the Varanasi and has great importance in the Buddhism as Gautam Buddha has given his first sermon at Sarnath. A huge fair is held at Sarnath on the occasion of Buddha Jayanti and the remnants related to him are taken out side for the public display.
There are some other places besides Sarnath such as BodhGaya and Kushinagar, where the Buddha Mahotsav is celebrated with great passion every year. Buddha Mahotsav has become the center of attraction at the day of Buddha Purnima that attracts large crowds of Buddhist people from each corner of the world. At this day, Buddhists pray and worship the statue of Gautam Buddha at different Buddhist temples in Sarnath as well as India and in the countries having Buddhism as state religion.
Celebrations of Buddha Purnima :
Sermons and reading of the Buddhist scriptures are another significant spiritual activities carried out by the devotees at Sarnath. They put forward fruits, flowers, candles etc. in front of the statues of the Lord Buddha according to their beliefs and customs. Decoration of the whole area at Sarnath with the earthen lamps takes place in the evening of the Buddha Purnima.