Buddha Purnima 2020: What is Buddha Purnima? Know its History, Date and Importance

Buddha Purnima 2020: The birth anniversary of Lord Buddha is observed as Buddha Purnima. According to the Vedic literature, Lord Buddha is an incarnation of Lord Krishna (Vishnu). People offer their prayer to Lord Buddha by visiting his holy shrines on this day. Buddha Purnima's celebration is all about praying with the purest of feelings, and adopting what Buddhism stands for - peace, non-violence, and harmony. Read on to know more about the date, significance of Buddha Purnima also known as Budh Purnima and history of Buddhism. Also know how and why Dr. B R Ambedkar converted to Buddhism.

Updated: May 07, 2020 13:42 IST



Buddha Purnima 2020: What is Buddha Purnima? Know its History, Date and Importance

Buddha Purnima 2020

Buddhism History

The Buddha or Siddhartha Gautama was a philosopher, teacher, and spiritual leader who is considered the founder of Buddhism. According to Vedic literature, Lord Buddha is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He appeared on this earth to teach non-violence and mercy towards all living creatures.

What is Buddha Purnima?

The birth anniversary of Lord Buddha is observed as Buddha Purnima. The festival of Buddha Purnima is celebrated to remember the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, who later became Gautama Buddha and became the founder of Buddhism. People celebrate Siddhartha's choice on this day to embrace a spiritual pursuit wherein he renounced all worldly pleasures to become a holy man. He preferred this life when he saw the suffering of ordinary people. Hence, he was inspired to relinquish his royal life. 

Nepal is considered to be Budhha's birth country, and there this day is celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakha month as per the Buddhist calendar. Neighboring Southeast Asian countries also celebrate this day during the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist and Hindu calendar, which is mostly the month of April or May as per the Western Gregorian calendar.

When is Buddha Purnima?

As per the Hindu calendar, Buddha Purnima falls on a full moon day in the month of Vaisakh (April/May). The auspicious occasion will be celebrated this year on May 7, the 2582nd Birth Anniversary of Gautama Buddha. The auspicious time for Buddh Purnima this year is from 7.44 pm (May 6) till 4.14 pm (May 7).

Importance of Buddha Purnima?

The festival has a lot of significance for the Buddhist community members. On this day, people offer their prayer to Lord Buddha by visiting his holy shrines. Devotees also visit temples and donate alms to the needy. The day is also celebrated to commemorate the time Buddha achieved nirvana. Some people also meditate or read holy scripture, while others observe a fast and later offer sweets to Lord Buddha. The day is completed with devotees lighting incense before him and praying for peace.

B R Ambedkar and Buddhism

B R Ambedkar, along with 3,65,000 of his Dalit followers, made history when they decided to leave Hinduism and embrace Buddhism on October 14, 1956. Ambedkar's conversion to Buddhism gave a new drift to the Dalit movement in India, allowing the group to find a voice free from the shackles of the four-fold varna system in Hinduism.

Ambedkar had always been a critic of Hinduism and believed it to be a more significant threat to Indian society than the British. In May 1936, he had stated: "I tell you all very specifically, religion is for man and not man for religion. To get human treatment, convert yourselves."

For 20 years after that, he pondered deeply upon which religion would best suit his requirements. He was sure that his conversion religion needed to be from the Indian soil. Finally, he opted Buddhism and came out with his version of the Buddhist Dhamma, altering some segments of the religion that he believed did not go well with the overall spirit of Buddhism. Ever since then, scholars have done a great deal of research to understand Ambedkar's conversion to Buddhism. Some even consider that it was a political move. For several years he had been demanding separate electorates for Dalits which ended up unsuccessful. Sociologists like Gail Omvedt believe he converted to Buddhism was more of a political protest in this regard.

Secondly, there is also the opinion that the conversion was a product of his lifelong personal experience of Hinduism

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