Mental Health 5 MIN READ 1636 VIEWS May 15, 2022

Buddha’s Birthday: Understanding The Significance Of This Day And Buddhist Meditation

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Buddha's Birthday

The world celebrates the birth, attaining enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha on May 16 every year. This day is also known and celebrated as Buddha’s Birthday or Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Buddha Pournami, and Vesak. This Buddhist festival is celebrated in Asia (East and South), especially at Gautam Buddha birth place in Lumbini, Nepal. It is celebrated with the purpose of honouring the birth of Gautama Buddha, earlier known as Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism.

Significance of Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima, or Buddha’s Birthday, was declared a public holiday in India by the then minister of law and justice, B. R. Ambedkar. It is celebrated especially in Arunachal Pradesh, Lahaul and Spiti district, Ladakh, Kinnaur, Sikkim, Bodhgaya, and various parts of North Bengal such as Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, and Maharashtra (inhabiting 77% of all Indian Buddhists), as well as in other parts of India as per the Indian calendar. This is how this day is celebrated:

  1. A sweet rice porridge, commonly known as Kheer, is served. It recalls the story of a maiden, Sujata, who in Lord Buddha’s life, offered him a bowl of milk porridge. 
  2. In Bodhgaya, India at the Mahabodhi Temple, this auspicious day is celebrated with remarkable enthusiasm. The temple is colourfully decorated. 
  3. Special prayers are performed under the Bodhi Tree by the devotees of Gautam Buddha to celebrate Buddha’s attainment of enlightenment (when he discovered life’s meaning). 
  4. This time also reflects on what it means to be a Buddhist and the teachings of Buddha’s lifetime. 

Story of Vesak

Buddhists believe in the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, popularly known as the Buddha, and not in a single God who is believed to have created the world and all living things in it.

Prince Siddhartha is believed to be born into a wealthy family in the 5th Century B.C in what is now known as Nepal. It’s said that Prince Siddhartha realised that luxury and wealth cannot guarantee happiness. So, he travelled all around the world as a homeless man to learn more about it and witnessed the suffering in the world. After six years of meditation and studying on his travels, he finally reached his goal of finding meaning in life and became spiritually aware. This was his enlightenment. 

Going through this journey, he attained the title of Buddha and taught the followers about his experiences for the rest of his life. Buddha is recognized as a title, which means the awakened one or the enlightened. 

Celebrating Vesak (Buddha’s Birthday)

Followers of Buddhism around the globe decorate their homes with lanterns, take part in parades, and wear white clothes to mark the occasion. 

A ceremony where water is poured over the shoulders of a statue of the Buddha is performed to remind people to clear their minds of negative thoughts like hatred and greed. This ceremony is known as ‘Bathing the Buddha’.

Animals, birds, and insects may also be released by people while celebrating something known as life release to give freedom to those who are imprisoned, tortured, or are in captivity against their will.

Buddhist Meditation

Meditation is an essential element of Buddhism. In Buddhism, the practice of meditation is known as Buddhist meditation. And, in the classical language of Buddhism, meditation is known as bhāvanā which translates to “mental development.”

In layman’s terms, meditation means to engage in a kind of mental exercise by concentrating one’s breathing to focus one’s thoughts and reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness. 

Buddhists practise meditation as a path toward freedom from cravings, destruction, and clinginess. This is also known as awakening, which results in the achievement of enlightenment. There are a variety of meditation techniques that aid in the attainment of a wholesome state of mind. 

1. Meditation for Peace and Calm

A person who is calm on the inside is a person who can be calm on the outside. Peace comes from within. Anyone can do it if they really want to and there is no wrong or right way to do it. The most used method is by controlling your breathing

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Relax your body. Let go of tension. Focus on the natural rise and fall of your breathing. Exhale any tension as you breathe out. Try to be present in the moment. Repeat as and when necessary.

2. Meditation for Inner Peace

Meditation can be practised for attaining inner peace as it eliminates worries, fears, and anxiety. It helps to control stress and negative and unhappy thoughts, promoting a state of mental and emotional composure as well as confidence.

3. Meditation for Mind Peace

One of the most effective ways to achieve peace of mind is to practise mindful meditation. It allows a clear point of view toward everyday problems faced by a person. Meditation allows a person to remove themselves from the equation and look at it from a different perspective. It takes a quick 10 minutes of your morning and has the potential to change your life.

At first, you might need a bit of practice but once you’re set, it can help you achieve real happiness, lasting inner strength, and peace of mind.

A Guide to Practising Mindful Meditation

On Gautam Buddha birth date this year, let us discuss a few points about how you can practise mindful meditation:

  1. First, find a quiet and comfortable place to sit. If you’re a beginner, you can sit on a chair with your back straight, chin up, your feet flat on the floor, and your arms resting comfortably. 
  2. Then, set an alarm for 10 minutes to avoid wondering when the time will be up. 
  3. Now, close your eyes shut and take a few slow, deep breaths. 
  4. Focus on your breathing. Don’t try to control it, let it flow naturally. Don’t worry if your thoughts wander. Acknowledge them but don’t react to them. Try to focus on your breathing. Once you start feeling in control, imagine a ball in your mind. 
  5. Now, fill that ball with the problems that cause you stress. Think of letting go of one of those problems every time you exhale. Repeat until the ball is empty. 
  6. Finally, imagine a warm feeling, let it take up space until it fills the void completely. Imagine that this feeling contains the solutions to all the problems. Let yourself be taken up by this feeling.
  7. When done, open your eyes, and go about your day knowing you can deal with anything the world throws at you. 

Conclusion

This Buddha’s Birthday, make sure you try to stick to one of the above-mentioned meditation techniques, and help yourself as well as others achieve a state of absolute happiness.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lord Buddha’s birthday

Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in most parts of East Asia to commemorate the birth of the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha.

Buddha’s birthday is one of the main public holidays across Korea.

Vesak is derived from the Sanskrit word Vaisakha, which is the name for a lunar month called Vaisakha. Vesak, a variation of the term, is used since Buddha was born in the month of Vaisakha.

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