Buddha Jayanti or the Buddha Purnima celebrates the birth of Prince Siddharta on the full moon night in the month of Vaisakh (April/May). Years later, on the same day, Prince Siddharta attained enlightenment and beacme the Buddha. Finally, on the same day, he attained parinibbana. Thus, Buddha Purnima marks not just the birth but also the death of Lord Buddha.
Losar, or the Tibetan New Year is celebrated with much gaiety in various parts of India. Buddhists dress up well, visit their relatives and offer worships in temples to seek blessings of various gods. Also, of special significance is the Chaam dances that are performed in the monasteries in India. The dances portray the victory of good over evil.
Celebrated in the Hemis Monastery in Ladkah, J&K, the Hemis festival/fair is one of the most famous Buddhist events of the country that attracts tourists from both India and abroad in large numbers. The festival celebrates the birth of Indian sage, Guru Padmasambhava who was also responsible for spreading Buddhism in Tibet. The festival is celebrated for two days and has a portrait of "Dadmokarpo" or "Rygyalsras Rimpoche" held on display for people to worship. The highlight of the festival is the sacred mask dances, Chaams that are performed by the monks. The beating of drums, clashing of cymbals and the spiritual wail of pipes add a mystic touch to the festival.
Along with other countries like China, Japan and Malaysia, India, too celebrates Ullambana. The festival is the time when, it is believed, the Gates of the Hell open and the dead are allowed to pay a visit to their loved ones on earth. Because of this, on this day, the Buddhists make offerings to the deads and perform charitable deeds so as to gain spiritual merit. The festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month.
The Sangha day celebrates the spontaneous gathering of 1250 Arahants at the Veruvana Monastery in the Rajgaha city after the first Rains Retreat. This gathering was adressed by the Buddha who delievered his sermon, or recitation of the Patimokkha. The event took place in the month of magh as per indian calendar and hence, it is also known as the the Magha day Puja. The festival, which honours the Sangha or the Buddhist community, is also known as the Four Fold Assembly.
Asalha or the Dhamma Day celebrates the first teaching of the Buddha which He delievered to a group of five friends. The day also marks the beginning of the three months long Rains retreat during which monks remain confined to their monasteries and focus on their meditation. The day is celebrated on the full moon of the eighth lunar month of Asalha.
This day marks the end of the vassa or the three months Rains Retreat which begins with Asalha Day. The day falls on the full moon day of the 11th lunar month and coincides with October November of the Gregorian calendar.
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Famous Buddhist Festivals ::