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A day thrice blessed

  • The sacred day is celebrated by visiting Buddhist shrines, where alms are presented to monks, and Lord Buddha’s image is worshipped by lighting numerous butter lamps and incense, and offering flowers and fruits.

  • Esoteric Buddhist deity images are paraded during Buddha Jayanti in Kirtipur. A small celebration of giving alms is held on the day to initiate the feeling of compassion.

  • Buddha Jayanti is a ’thrice-blessed day’. Siddhartha Gautam was born on this day; he became Buddha, the ‘Enlightened One’ on this day; and also died on this day. Here, a devotee earnestly seeks blessings with folded hands and tightly shut eyes.

  • A child monk stretches his hand to touch a Buddha statue. For centuries, many poor families have often provided a child to a monastery for eligious or educational purposes, or simply as a way to ensure that they are fed and well looked after.

  • While circumambulating the shrine (kora), devotees repeatedly prostrate themselves on the ground. Prayer wheels are also spun, malas (string of beads) counted, and mantras chanted when performing this ritual.

  • A bright moon bestows a heavenly glow on the golden spire of Swayambhunath Stupa, the most ancient of all Buddhist shrines in the valley. Buddha Jayanti falls on the full moon day of Baisakh (April/May), and so is also known as Buddha Purnima.

Buddha Jayanti commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and passing away of Gautam Buddha. On this day, devotees visit various shrines to worship the Awakened One, and honor his Dharma (teachings) and his Sangha (disciples).

The 2560th Buddha Jayanti was celebrated this year on May 21, 2016. This day, which falls on the full moon day in the Nepali month of Baisakh, is said to be thrice blessed, because it commemorates Gautam Buddha’s birth (c. 623 B.C.E.), enlightenment (c. 588 B.C.E.), and death (at age 80), which all occurred on the same day. This sacred day is celebrated all over the world with special worships, singing hymns, holding spiritual discourses,  continuous recitation of Buddhist scriptures, and meditation by monks and devotees. Special celebrations are held in Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha.

In Kathmandu, Boudhanatha and Swayambhunath are the two stupas that are especially visited by thousands of Buddhists on the day, although other Buddhist shrines around the valley also get their fair share of worshippers. Alms are offered to Buddhist monks, and tens of thousands of butter lamps and incense are lighted at the shrines, which the worshippers circumambulate, performing the kora, turning prayer wheels as they move forward. Many devotees set free pairs of white pigeons as symbols of peace and harmony. Buddhist hymns are sung, and spiritual discourses are organized, as well. At Swayambhunath Stupa, devotees get to see a giant statue of Buddha that is unveiled on the day after, while in Boudhanath Stupa, a huge holy book is carried around in a ritual procession. 

The city of Patan, which is predominantly Buddhist, celebrates Buddha Jayanti with great enthusiasm. One of its many shrines is designated as the center of celebrations every year. The day is marked by processions, d----iscourses, hymns, and charitable work like blood donations. In Bhaktapur, too, the day is marked by joyous celebrations at Buddhist shrines, and a deepawali at the durbar square. In Kirtipur, Buddha Jayanti is especially centered around the Chiloncho Stupa, where a portrait of Dipankar Buddha is displayed on its premises.