Buddha Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism was born in Lumbini Park on the 8th day of the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar in 544 BC. When the was prince born, there were celestial portents and signs. Flowers bloomed and heavenly music was heard. Lovely scents filled the air and gentle rain fell from the sky to bathe him.
Immediately after his birth, the Buddha without help or support walked the seven steps in each direction of the world. For each step he walked, a lotus flower materialised and blossomed under his feet. With one hand pointing to the sky and the other hand pointing to the ground, he announced: “No further births have I to endure, for this is my last body. Now shall I destroy and pluck out the root and sorrow that is caused by birth and death (Samsara)”.
Many countries celebrate the birth of the Buddha on the 8th day of April. Others celebrate this historic day on the weekend closest to the 8th of April. On this day, Buddhists pay homage to the Buddha in many ways. Some observe the religious way of life for the day. Others give charity to the needy or take part in religious processions and ceremonies.
Traditionally, tens of thousands of devotees converge to the temple very early in the morning to offer prayers, meditate and present alms to monks and nuns. Many temples organise the Buddha Bathing Ceremony whereby a sculpture of the Buddha made of copper or stone are placed in the middle of a basin filled with boiled herbal water. Devotees use this water to bathe the Buddha sculpture. This symbolises the cleansing of one’s body and soul.
The Budda’s day is therefore an event of utmost importance to the Buddhist community as it commemorates the birth, enlightenment and final passing (Parinibbana) of the Buddha. Who through his own efforts was able to reach the pinnacle of perfection and wisdom.
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