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Buddha Purnima: Remembering Gautam Buddha

Buddha Purnima falls on 21st May this year. Buddha is considered to be the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu and 9th incarnation of Lord Krishna in North India.

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Statue of Gautam Buddha in Nepal Source: Wikimedia Commons
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By Shubhi Mangla

Buddha Purnima is an important festival for the Buddhists in several countries across the world. The festival marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautam Buddha and is also called ‘Vesak’ or ‘Buddha Jayanti’. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm among Buddhists living in India, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and various other countries.

Gautam Buddha was born around 563 BCE in Lumbini, Nepal. He was a spiritual teacher all through his life. He was born to King Suddhodana as Siddhartha Gautama. At the age of 29 he gave up royal life after learning through four encounters called ‘four sights’ in Buddhist literature which were- ordinary people, an old man, a sick person and a holy man, content with the world. His teachings led to the foundation of Buddhism. Buddha wandered to many places and took shelter under a Banyan tree in India called Bodhi Gaya. He swore to meditate till he achieved enlightenment which he did after 49 days. Buddha is considered to be the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu and 9th incarnation of Lord Krishna in North India.

Buddhist pilgrims at Mahabodhi temple, Bodh Gaya, Bihar Source: Wikimedia Commons
Buddhist pilgrims at Mahabodhi temple, Bodh Gaya, Bihar
Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • The festival falls usually celebrated in May, on the full moon day (In Buddha Purinama, ‘Purinma’ means full moon). The festival can be celebrated on different days by different Buddhist communities. This is because of the difference between the interpretations of Lunar calendar. All government and private organizations are closed or their opening hours are reduced on this day.
  • On this day, Buddhists visit temples to listen to speeches given by monks who also recite ancient verses. Some temples display small sculptures of Baby Buddha placed in a basin filled with clean water and embellished with flowers. People who come to the temple pour water on the statue which symbolizes a new beginning especially in Taiwan.
Devotees bathing baby Buddha statue Source: Wikimedia Commons
Devotees bathing baby Buddha statue
Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Bodh Gaya, a small town in Bihar is a famous pilgrimage related to Lord Buddha where the main celebrations take place. The Mahabodhi Tree where Buddha was known to attain enlightenment is worshiped and offerings are made.
Mahabodhi Tree Source: Wikimedia Commons
Mahabodhi Tree
Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Some Buddhists dedicate this day to Lord Buddha. They wear white clothes and eat pure vegetarian food. Some people help the poor, elderly people and the sick. Caged animals are often bought and set free to display affection for animals as preached by Lord Buddha. In India, a sweet porridge in remembrance of a maid who offered Buddha a bowl of milk porridge.
  • During Vesak, Dharma chakra or Dharma wheel can be often seen. The wheel is known to symbolize the path of Buddha’s teaching towards enlightenment. The wheel has eight strokes which symbolize eightfold path of Buddhism which are right belief, right intention, right thinking, right living, right efforts, right conduct, right words and right meditation.
  • Buddha’s four noble truths are the foundation of Buddhism. They are− all human conditions lead to suffering, suffering has a cause, the cause is desire or craving and there is a path for ceasing desires.
  • Buddha’s 5 percepts help a person to follow the right path in life. They are− not killing, not stealing, not misusing sex, not lying and not consuming alcohol.
  • In Cambodia, Vesak is a public holiday. People are seen carrying flags, incense and candle sticks and lotus flowers to celebrate the day. People also offer money or goods to the monks.
Jokhang Monastery - Dharma Wheel, the eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism Source: Wikimedia Commons
Jokhang Monastery – Dharma Wheel, the eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism
Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • In Korea, temples are decorated with lotus flowers. Free meals and tea are served to temple visitors.
  • In Sri Lanka, people decorate their houses with lanterns. People practice ‘Dansalas’ which refers to the practice of offering food and drinks to people. Stories from Buddha’s life are depicted through electric display.
People giving alms to Buddhist monks Source: www.thaibuddhist.com
People giving alms to Buddhist monks
Source: www.thaibuddhist.com
  • Buddha’s teachings mainly centered on the sufferings of people in this world. Simple living and care towards fellow human beings and animals were his greatest lessons. His teachings bring peace to the mind and content to our soul.

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Shubhi Mangla is an intern at Newsgram and  a student of Journalism in New Delhi. Twitter @shubhi_mangla

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  • Archita aggarwal

    Good to see some traditions are still existing in the world….

Next Story

India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.