Buddha Purnima marks the birth anniversary of Siddhartha Gautam, who later became Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The auspicious day is celebrated with much fervour in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Nepal, Korea, Indonesia, Laos and Malaysia. Since it falls on the full moon day (Purnima), the occasion is referred to as Buddha Purnima in India.

Devotees gather on this day and remember the teachings on compassion and non-violence that Buddha espoused. During Buddha Purnima, or Vesak, dharma wheel symbol is commonly seen, which is also known as dharma chakra. The wheel has eight ribs, representing the great teachings of Gautam Buddha.

Historical reference and rituals

Buddha Purnima also celebrated as Vesak in South and Southeast Asia, falls on the full moon day. The day commemorates birth, death and the enlightenment of Lord Buddha, all of which is said to take have taken place on the same day. Lord Buddha was born as Prince Siddhartha. Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, now in modern-day Nepal. He was raised in a sheltered and secluded realm of the royal courts, oblivious of the real world outside.

But after witnessing misery in the outside world, Prince Siddartha pledged to leave all his comforts behind strive for moksha. He headed towards the forest to lead a life of an ascetic. Later Siddhartha attained enlightenment and preached his thoughts throughout India earning the title Buddha.

In India, Buddha Purnima is celebrated by paying a visit to common Viharas, where Buddhists observe a longer than usual and full-length Buddhist sutra, which is similar to a service. Kheer is one of the most widely prepared delicacy of the day.