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Buddha Jayanti 2017: Here is why India is Celebrating the 2579th Birth Anniversary of Gautama Buddha!

This year will be the 2579th birth anniversary of the prophet who conquered the world with his message of peace, nonviolence and sacrifice

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Buddhism, Pixabay
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Kolkata, May 10, 2017: The birth anniversary of Gautama Buddha is celebrated today as Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti during the month of Vaishakha. Gautama Buddha, whose birth name was Siddhartha Gautama, was a prince who later went on to become a spiritual and philosophical leader and founded Buddhism based on peace, love, and harmony.

Even though the exact time of Gautama Buddha’s birth and death is uncertain, his lifeline is dated between 563-483 B.C by most historians and researchers. Lumbini in Nepal is widely considered as the as the birthplace of the prophet. Buddha passed away at the age of 80 at Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.

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Buddhists have a number of pilgrimage sites but Bodh Gaya is the most important pilgrimage site as it is related to the life of Gautama Buddha. Sarnath, Lumbini and Kushinagar are other three important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. The followers of Lord Buddha believe that Gautama Buddha obtained Enlightenment at Bodhgaya and he first taught the Dharma and his philosophies at Sarnath.

It is also believed that the day Gautama Buddha obtained Enlightenment and the day he passed away are the same. Buddha Purnima is also popularly known as Buddha Jayanti, Vesak, Vaishaka and Buddha’s Birthday.

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Lord Buddha is considered as the 9th incarnation or ‘Avatar’ and Lord Krishna as the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu in North India. However, In South Indian belief, Buddha is never considered as an Avatar of Vishnu. Instead, in South India it is believed that Balarama is the 8th incarnation and Krishna is the 9th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Even the majority of Vaishnava movements count Balarama counted as an incarnation of Vishnu, not Buddha. Buddhists don’t consider Buddha as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu as well.

This year it will be the 2579th birth anniversary of Lord Buddha. The Purnima timings are:
Purnima Tithi Begins around 01:07 on May 10, 2017. Purnima Tithi Ends around 03:12 on May 11, 2017.

Here’s wishing a very happy Buddha Purnima to all!

– by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC