India is the birthplace of Buddhism, and the Buddhist festivals are celebrated with equal vigour and fervour in the country. There is no better time to plan a trip to India, than during the time of a festival. Communities look forward to these days as a means to get to mingle around with others, celebrates, exchange gifts and hold feasts, each state, local, having their own unique way of celebrating their beloved festival.
Celebrations like these are one of the many things that India is famous for. The people, the colour, the festivities and the enthusiasm is like no other in the entire world. Once you have witnessed the passion and revere with which the masses celebrate their festivals here, like annual ladakh festival. you are sure to come back for more. So we invite you to celebrate with us the galore of Buddhist festival in India.
Buddha Jayanti or Buddh Purnima is celebrated with great gusto and pomp all over India. It was on this auspicious day that Prince Siddhartha, was born to King Suddhodana and Queen Maha Maya. Celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakh month, Budh Purnima falls somewhere between the months of April and May on the Gregorian Calendar. This day is also commemorated as the day, Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment and was known as Buddha. The day is also remembered as the day of Buddha’s passing. Thus Budh Purnima marks as the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha, making it a very important Buddhist Festival. Buddhist shrines and temples, all over the country, are decked with flowers and incense, and faithful devotees come to pay homage to their beloved Dharma Guru, Buddha.
Losar is a traditional Tibetan New Year celebrated with vigour and gaiety in various parts of India. Celebrating Losar predates Buddhism, and is believed to have begun when an old Tibetan woman, named Belma, introduced the measurement of time, based on the phases of the moon. Buddhist all over the coutry, celebrate the new year in colourful clothes with friends and family. Get to try mouth-watering delicacies like Guthuk, crispy Khapse and other delicious Tibetan treats. Another fun attraction during this time of the year is the vibrant Cham Dancers that perform at monasteries all over India. Considered a form of meditation, and offering to god in the form of song and dance, the Cham dancers are a delight to watch as they enact the triumph of good over evil.
The Hemis festival is one of the most famous of Buddist festivals in India. Celebrated at the Hemis Monastery in Ladakh, this festival brings about people from all over the world, who come to this quaint monastery to part take in this once in a year carnival. The festival is celebrated in honour of Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rimpoche, who was regarded as the reincarnation of Buddha himself. Guru Padmasanbhava is credited for the spread of Buddhism in Tibet and he dedicated his life to the betterment of mankind. The festivities for the Hemis Fair last for about two days, where one can see devotees dressed in colourful attires visit temples and pay homage to the shrine and prepare lavish feasts and celebrate with friends and family. The highlights of the festival are the monks who perform the Cham Dance, a sacred form of dance and song that add a mystic touch to the entire festival.
Ullambana or the Ghost festival is celebrated in the seventh month of the lunar calendar which coincides with the month of August, on the Gregorian calendar. Ullambana is celebrated with great gusto in India, and is believed that on this date, the gates of Hell open, and the dead are allowed to visit their loved ones on Earth. Devotees make opulent offerings to their ancestors and are encouraged to perform acts of charity. Although not as pomp and flamboyant as China, Malaysia and Singapore, Ullambana in India has its own charm that will make up for a memorable experience.
The Dhamma or the Asalha Day, is marked as the day Buddha gave his first discourse to a group of five friends. It is believed that it was on this day that Buddha spoke about the essence of his learning and of future teachings. The Asalha days also marks the beginning of the rain retreat, or the starting of the monsoon months, where monks and nuns hold their wandering and retreat into monasteries to follow meditation. This retreat starts on the Dhamma day and concludes on the Pavarana.
Sangha Day or the Magha Puja is commemoration of the day Buddha delivered a sermon to 1250 Arhats (high priests), gathered at the Vervana Monastry. After the first rain retreat (also known as Vassa- the month when monks partake in strict meditation) Buddha arrived at the Vervana Monastery in Rajagaha city. Here without any notice, 1250 Arahats gathered to pay him respect. Buddha then delivered a sermon for which this day is remembered. On this day, devotees visit Buddhist shrines and listen to sermons and take part in religious discussions.
Pavarana Day marks the end of the three month rain retreat that begins on the Asalha day. As history has it, monks who lived together for the three month long rain retreat, decided it was best to remain silent to avoid conflict with each other. Buddha on hearing this disapproved and urged them to come out and discuss their likes and dislikes, as this was far more beneficial for the community. Thus was the beginning of an age old ritual to discuss the good and bad of monastery life or the Pavarana Day.
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