Mumbai: By the time Friday night began, Bhadant Sanghapal Bhante, Buddhist monk was planning to be deep into meditation and teaching of the Lord Buddha. Today marks Buddha Purnima or the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha. Devotees celebrate it by visiting Buddha Vihars, distributing kheer (sweet delicacy of milk and rice), donating books, visiting caves and meditating on Lord Buddha’s teaching.
Born in 563 BC as Siddhartha into a royal family in Lumbini, Nepal, he was raised in the midst of luxury and wealth.
Search for enlightenment
He left his family in search of enlightenment and to know why people suffer when he sees an old man, a diseased person and a dead body. After years of penance, he attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya after which he spent his remaining life teaching people. His Jayanti is celebrated not just in India but in many other south-east Asian countries.
Buddhist Monk Bhadant Sanghapal said, “Until the age of 80, he spread his teaching and rid people of their sufferings. His birth happened when it was Vesak or Vaisakh Purnima (full moon day). His enlightenment also happened on the same day and so was the case with his Mahaparinirvan Diwas. Today is celebrated as his birthday.”
The significance of serving kheer
Kheer, an omnipresent delicacy in Buddhist households, is prepared as Lord Buddha was offered the first thing after his enlightenment.
A Govandi resident Ashok Salve said, “Post enlightenment, Princess Sujata offered him Kheer. Since then kheer is certainly prepared and given around. The tradition of celebrating Buddha Purnima was not as much as was the case with Ambedkar Jayanti but now the celebrations are picking up. We make vegetarian food on this day and distribute kheer, donate books and visit Chaityabhoomi.”
Some like Dr Rewat Kaninde start celebrations of Buddha Jayanti with a grand get-together. “We have some 18 people who celebrate it together. We make kheer, vegetables, chapati, and veg pulao. We sing songs and visit Chaityabhoomi and go to caves in Sanjay Gandhi National Park. We observe Pansheel – the way of life taught by Buddha and donate books promoting scientific temperament in Buddha Vihars,” said Kaninde.