Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Buddha is widely celebrated, on a full moon night in April/May. Buddha was born on the Full Moon day in the month of Vaisakh.
Although Buddhists regard every full moon as sacred, the full moon of Vaisakh(April -May) has special significance. On this day Buddha was born. He attained enlightenment and Nirvana on a similar full moon day. This unique three-fold coincidence, bestows significance to Buddha Purnima.
Buddha was born under the shade of two sal trees at Lumbini. He was named Siddhartha, he is known by his clan name Gautama. Buddha attained enlightenment sitting under Bodhi tree therefore special care is taken, to nurture and water Bodhi trees.
It is also believed that Yashodara, Gautam’s wife, his charioteer Channa and his horse Kantaka were born on the same day. On this day, Buddhists offer prayers in their temples. Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh and Bodh Gaya in Bihar are the main centres of celebration. Celebrations of Buddha purnima have been extensively referred to in various poems and novels. They are also depicted in mural paintings.
Buddha Purnima represents the birthday and enlightenment of a great seer. Hence it is not intended to be a day of rejoicing but of deep reflections on the travails of human life..