Vesak Festival – Three significant occurrences
Vesak Festival – Three significant occurrences in the life of Gautama Buddha occurred on the full moon in May, making this full moon the most promising for Buddhists. Prince Siddhattha, the Buddha-to-be, was born at Lumbini Grove on the full moon day of May. After six years of hardship, he achieved enlightenment under the shade of a Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya on May’s full moon. As a third sad fact, he passed away in Kusinara, India, on the full moon in May at the age of eighty-nine, after 45 years of dedicated service to all those seeking to achieve Nibbana. Hence, May 19th, the full moon of the lunar month of Visakha, is an important day to commemorate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and Pari Nibbana (which falls this year).
The Buddha-to-be was born on the full moon day of the month of Visakha in the kingdom of the Sakyas (present-day southern Nepal). King Suddhodana and Queen Maya were his parents. Siddhattha, which means “He who achieves his goal,” is the name given to their son by his parents. As soon as the prince was born, the king’s wise men predicted that he would either become a universal monarch or a Buddha, an “awakened one.”. His father feared that his son would follow in his footsteps if exposed to any religion.
The king took his young son, Prince Siddhattha, with him and left him to sleep in a tent beneath a nearby Eugenia tree to attend the royal plowing ceremony. A cross-legged position on the bed, he began his first meditation practice. The king was in awe of his son when he saw this, and he paid homage.
Siddhattha, a young prince, was raised in luxury and married his cousin, princess Yasodhara, at 16. At the age of 29, he decided to leave his life of luxury and embark on a journey searching for truth and peace after encountering four signs. As a result, he left Kapilavastu and began a life as an ascetic on the road. At the end of nearly six years of severe austerity and extreme self-mortification, he realized that they were futile in his quest for the truth, so he gave up and went back to his old ways. In the end, he decided to follow his path, which he called the middle way. Sitting cross-legged beneath the peepal bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa), he vowed he would not get up until he had attained nirvana.
An old man, a sick man, a dead body, and an old monk appeared to Prince Siddhattha in the palace courtyard. Siddhattha persisted in his quest to discover what life’s ultimate purpose was. After a six-year journey of struggle and self-study, the prince finally attained enlightenment to discover his true spiritual path. On the full moon of the month of Visakha, he attained enlightenment at the age of 35 and became a supreme Buddha at Bodh Gaya. Severe misunderstandings about his identity led to him being referred to as “the Buddha” or “Sakyamuni.”
After hearing his teachings, the five ascetics became his first disciples. Buddhism as a religion as a whole grew due to his teachings. When he returned, he took the Dhamma message to his dying father. The king attained arahatta after hearing the Buddha’s teachings (perfect sanctity). The Buddha then taught the Abhidhamma, or “Higher Doctrine,” to his former mother, who had been reborn as a deva in the Tavatimsa heaven with other gods. Buddhist nuns were also a part of his legacy. Buddha preached to those who would listen for forty-five years in northern India about the sufferings of life and the path to escaping them.
A group of bhikkhus and the Buddha’s cousin Ananda embarked on their final journey from Rajagaha to Kusinara when the Buddha was 80 years old. During the rainy retreat, the Buddha made his way to Vesali and spent time there (vassa). Dysentery struck him in Pava after he left Vesali to Kusinara. Once at Kusinara, the Buddha sat down in the Malla kings’ grove under a couch between two sal trees. When Ananda and the bhikkhus gathered, he addressed them and preached the Mahasudasana Sutta, converting one last person. On the full moon of the month of Visakha, the Buddha attained parinibbana, or entry into the final Nibbana (May).
“Buddha’s Birthday” is the name given to the Buddhist holiday of Vesak, which devotees celebrate in South, Southeast, and East Asia and around the world. Gotama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death (parinibbana) are all celebrated during the Vesak festival in the Buddhist calendar. In remembrance of the Buddha’s Enlightenment, thousands of Buddhists gather at pagodas across the country on Vesak full moon day to pour water at the foot of a sacred tree. The Peepal Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, where Siddhattha attained Enlightenment and became a Buddha, is the Buddhist’s most sacred tree. To commemorate these significant events, Buddhist devotees visit monasteries, give alms, adhere to precepts, and meditate independently. In return, the pilgrims chant scriptures, meditate, and learn about the festival’s themes from the monks. The Buddhist festival of Vesak is widely observed worldwide. Still, it is particularly revered in Southeast Asia, where it is seen as a particularly auspicious time to carry out good deeds.