Buddha Purnima (Vesak, Buddha Jayanti) is a Buddhist festival that marks Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. It falls on the day of the Full Moon in April or May and it is a gazetted holiday in India.
This year it falls on the 18th of May, 2019.
Gautama Buddha whose birth name was Siddhartha Gautama was a spiritual teacher on whose teachings Buddhism was founded.
Since Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and Nirvana on Purnima, the full moon period, the day is known as Buddha Purnima. As Buddha’s Birthday also falls in the Hindu month of Vaishakha, Buddha Jayanti is popular as Vesak in the East Asian countries like China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka where Buddhism reached its peak of popularity. Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti is remembered as the journey of Lord Buddha’s Birthday, enlightenment, and death.
Since Buddha Purnima celebration commemorates the three significant events in the life of Gautama Buddha, Vesak holds immense religious significance for the followers of Buddhism sects. Therefore, Vesak or Buddha Purnima is considered the biggest festival amongst the Buddhist community across India who celebrates every moment of it with sincerity and honesty. The devotees enjoy Vesak or Buddha Purnima celebration this full moon day by maintaining Buddha Purnima rituals like having fast and serving to humanity.
Since Gautama Buddha was born in a Hindu Kshatriya family belonging to Ikshvaku dynasty, Buddha’s birthday- known as Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti (Vesak) has an incredible significance in Hinduism. In North India Buddha is considered as the 9th incarnation and Lord Krishna as the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Hence Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti (Vesak) is an auspicious day even for the Hindus and is observed with full devotion in India. Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti (Vesak) is declared a public holiday by the Government of India.
However Buddha is never considered as an Avatar of Vishnu in South Indian belief. In South India Balarama is considered as the 8th incarnation and Krishna as the 9th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Even Buddhists don’t consider Buddha as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.