Buddha Purnima/ Vesak Day in India: Celebrating Spiritual Harmony

User By Jenna Jolie

Various festivals of many religions are celebrated in India every year. India is a secular and pluralistic country where every religion and social sect can celebrate their respective festivals. Buddhism is one of India's popular religions and has festivals for everyone to Gautam Buddha.

Buddha Purnima is the most important public holiday for Buddhists in India. People of almost all religions and backgrounds take part in the celebrations to commemorate the birth, attainment, and nirvana of the Buddha. Unlike most Western festivals, its date is not fixed according to the Gregorian calendar. We observe the festival on the full moon of the Vaishakha month of the Hindu Calendar. The central theme of this festival is respect and humility. The symbol of the Buddha's full day is the Dharma wheel.

So when is Buddha Purnima celebrated? how do we celebrate Buddha Purnima? Keep reading to know more about Buddha Purnima (Vesak) festival in India

Buddha Purnima Festival in India

Buddha Purnima Festival in India

Overview of the Buddha Purnima Festival in India

What is Buddha Purnima and why it is celebrated?

Buddha Purnima is known as Buddha Jayanti, Vesak, Vaishaka and Buddha's Birthday. It commonly known as Vesak, is the most important holiday for all Buddhists across the world. This fortunate day commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and is widely commemorated by Buddhist sects. On this day, people celebrate the Thrice Blessed Festival.

Is Buddha Purnima a national holiday?

Buddha Purnima is a gazetted holiday in India, hence all government offices, post offices, and banks are closed on this day. Additionally, Buddhist-owned businesses may remain closed on festival day.

Buddha Purnima date and time

Buddha Purnima 2024 date and time

Buddha Purnima 2024 date and time

Buddha Purnima is celebrated annually on the first full moon of the month of Vesakha, which often occurs in May or early June. As a result, the actual day of Vesak varies from year to year, according to the lunar calendar.

When is Buddha Purnima/ Vesak day in 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027?

In 2024, Buddha Purnima on Thursday, May 23, 2024

  • Purnima Tithi Begins - 20:17 on May 22, 2024
  • Purnima Tithi Ends - 20:52 on May 23, 2024

In 2025, Buddha Purnima is on Monday, May 12, 2025

  • Purnima Tithi Begins - 21:31 on May 11, 2025
  • Purnima Tithi Ends - 23:55 on May 12, 2025

In 2026, Ganesh Chaturthi is on Friday, May 1, 2026

  • Purnima Tithi Begins - 22:42 on Apr 30, 2026
  • Purnima Tithi Ends - 24:22+ on May 01, 2026

In 2027, Buddha Purnima on Thursday, May 20, 2027

  • Purnima Tithi Begins - 17:32 on May 19, 2027
  • Purnima Tithi Ends - 17:58 on May 20, 2027

Buddha Purnima's history and significance

Although the date and time of Lord Buddha’s birth and death are uncertain, the assumptions are that he lived between 6th and 4th century BC. He was born as Prince Siddhartha in Lumbini, Nepal.  According to legend, long before he was born, he was predicted to become a great king or a great saint. Raised in princely luxury, Sithartha was unaffected by the hardships of human life until his mid-twenties. After illness, old age and death, the 29-year-old prince decided to leave the palace and set out to find the answer to the root of all suffering.

Over the next few years he studied many different teachings, but could never find relief until one night he went into deep meditation and woke up with all the answers he had been looking for. This is how Chodamma Siddhartha became a Buddha or Jnana at the age of 35. For the rest of his life, he propagated the Dharma and led all beings on the path of Bodhi. Siddhartha Gautama died at the age of 80 in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.

It is said that three important events in the life of Siddhartha Gautama - his birth, attainment of enlightenment and salvation - all occurred on the same day of the year. Because of this event, this day has great value in Buddhism. In May 1960, the World Fellowship of Buddhists decided to celebrate the anniversary of the Buddha's birth on the first full moon day in Trans-Sahara.

Rituals for Buddha Purnima Celebration in India

Buddha Purnima Celebration in India

Buddha Purnima Celebration in India

To celebrate Buddha Purnima in India, we can hold ceremonies, chant hymns, offerings and vegetarian delicacies, including the celebration of Siddhartha Gautama's birthday. Buddha Purnima is the day of attainment, marking the birth and nirvana of Siddhartha Gautama. Followers should observe Buddha Purnima with great devotion and enthusiasm.

Gautam Buddha founded the Buddhist society, which is why we will explore the major features of Buddha Purnima celebrations:

  • On the day of Buddha Purnima, people can visit Buddhist temples to pay homage to flowers and chant Buddha's name, spreading the life, teachings, and doctrine of the Buddha.

  • The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, the Deer Park in Varanasi, the Dhaulagiri Temple in Orissa, and many other holy temples attract large numbers of devotees. Therefore, you are welcome to visit these temples and bless them on this beautiful day.

  • Every Buddhist who participates in the programme has to follow a set of norms and regulations which include practicing kindness and non-violence. They must abstain from meat consumption and wear white to represent peace and goodwill towards the less fortunate.

  • Devotees decorate statues of Buddha with new flowers and wash them with water. In addition, devotees provide food, clothing, and money to the needy. In some parts of China and Southeast Asia, people also commemorate special days by releasing caged birds or animals.

  • On this auspicious day, people may prepare tasty dishes such as milk porridge or milk congee to give to the less fortunate and the beloved to spread joy and happiness.

  • On this day, many people also take advantage of prayer and meditation opportunities to connect with the spiritual core of the Buddha's teachings.

What to Do During Buddha Purnima in India?

Buddha Purnima, which falls in May, is a national holiday. To understand more about Buddhist culture, visit the shrines and join the rituals. The practices and rituals are all about soul purification and might help you find calm. On Buddha Purnima, government offices are closed, and stores and businesses may also be shuttered. All businesses run by Buddhists have closed. You may also pay honor to Gautam Buddha by visiting a Buddhist temple and donating money or food to the monks.

Best Places to Visit in India This Buddha Purnima

Places to Visit in India This Buddha Purnima

Places to Visit in India This Buddha Purnima

There are various other destinations you may visit during Buddha Purnima. But these are some of the most important ones where you may enjoy joining in the celebrations or pick a more quiet celebration. Some of the best places to visit in this Buddha Purnima festival are listed here. 

Bodh Gaya, India

The most popular destination to visit during Buddha Purnima will be Bodh Gaya

The most popular destination to visit during Buddha Purnima will be Bodh Gaya

The most popular destination to visit during Buddha Purnima will be Bodh Gaya, near Patna in Bihar. It is here that Buddha achieved enlightenment. The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of India's most popular religious destinations. The Bodhi tree, beneath which Buddha meditated, is also visible within the compound. Emperor Ashoka erected this temple during his rule in the third century BC, making it one of the oldest Buddhist temples. The complex contains the tree, the temple, several locations of enlightenment, and a variety of votive stupas. 

Sarnath, Varanasi, India

One of the best places to celebrate Buddha Purnima in Sarnath is at the Dhamek Stupa, a large edifice erected on the site where Buddha is said to have delivered his first speech. Devotees congregate here to worship, contemplate, and participate in religious rites remembering the Buddha's teachings.

Various monasteries and temples in Sarnath also host unique activities and cultural programs during Buddha Purnima. These may include respected monks' discourses, meditation sessions, sutra chanting, and traditional performances. Visitors can engage in spiritual activities, learn about Buddhist philosophy, and enhance their grasp of the Dharma.

Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh

Sanchi is home to the earliest stone Buddha sculpture

Sanchi is home to the earliest stone Buddha sculpture

Kushinagar, near Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, is well-known as the site of Buddha's Mahaparinirvana. Emperor Ashoka constructed a stupa on this identical place, and the Mahaparinirvana Temple features a 6-foot-long figure of Buddha in a reclining pose. The Ramabhar Stupa, a 49-foot-tall figure of Buddha, was built at this cremation site. Every year on Buddha Purnima, a great fair is held here, making it an ideal location for the celebration. There are several additional Buddhist temples and monasteries in the area. Buses to Kushinagar are accessible from various regions of Uttar Pradesh for a more affordable travel.  

Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

Sanchi is home to the earliest stone Buddha sculpture. The Sanchi Stupa is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can visit the four ceremonial doorways, the Gupta Temple, the Ashoka Pillar, and numerous other historic stupas here. The Stupa is open for visitors from 6.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. every day. Although the winter season is the best time to travel, Buddha Purnima is a particularly fortunate event. 

Vaishali, Bihar

Vaishali is a sacred center for Buddhism and Jainism. The location is named after King Vishal, who constructed a massive fort here. The fort is currently in ruins, but it is more noteworthy for hosting Buddha's last sermon. Buddha made regular visits here, and Ashoka constructed the Ashoka Pillar, a massive lion pillar, to honor him. The notable Buddhist sites here are Ananda Stupa, relic Stupa, Kutagarasala Vihara, and so on. The Abhishek Pushkarn, also known as the Coronation Pond, contains Buddha's ashes. Kundalpur, the hometown of Lord Mahavira, is about 2 kilometers distant. The Vaishali Museum houses various antique artifacts. 

Dharamshala, India

Dharamshala is the best places to to Visit in India This Buddha Purnima

Dharamshala is the best places to to Visit in India This Buddha Purnima

In the serene Himalayan town of Dharamsala, the sacred Buddha Purnima is celebrated with great reverence. The celebrations begin with devotees gathering at the revered Chulakorn complex, the residence of the Dalai Lama and a major centre of Tibetan Buddhism. The complex is adorned with colourful sutras and elaborate decorations, creating a vibrant atmosphere of sanctity and devotion.

You will also see Tibetan monks leading a solemn procession, holding relics, chanting sutras and praying around the stupa for peace and enlightenment. The Buddha Purnima in Dharamsala also features a cultural program that includes traditional dance performances, lectures on Buddhist philosophy, and exhibitions of Buddhist art and artefacts.

Kushinagar, India

The historic town of Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh is Buddha's ultimate resting place. On this auspicious day, devotees assemble to the Mahaparinirvana Temple and the Ramabhar Stupa to offer their respects to the Holy Being. The ceremonies to commemorate Lord Buddha begin at daybreak, with followers praying, reciting mantras, and bringing flowers and candles to hallowed spots linked with His last days, among other things.

Monasteries such as Mathakuar Kot and Rambhar Stupa organize cultural activities such as traditional dance performances, lifestyle lectures, and recitations of Buddhist scriptures, bringing guests from all over the world to take part in the popular event.

The fact that the Buddha Purnima celebrations in Kushinagar last a month distinguishes them from those at other Buddhist places. Even Hindu temples do pujas and special rites to honor Lord Buddha.

So, if you're visiting Kushinagar for Buddha Purnima, be sure you schedule a stay of at least a week to fully experience the festivities.

If nothing else, Dharamsala's Buddha Purnima, the day of the Buddha's full moon, is a great time to find a quiet corner to meditate under the moonlight.

Buddha Purnima festival in India is celebrated to honor the life and eternal wisdom of the Buddha. Still, it is a method to strengthen one's spiritual practice and go closer to enlightenment. This Buddh Purnima, pack your bags and apply for an India visa online. Getting ready for your Indian travel involves obtaining your visa, and we're here to make it as easy as possible. The Indian immigration services website is distinguished out for its usefulness and effectiveness. We are devoted to not just meeting your visa needs, but also making the process easier for you.