The festival of Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti celebrates the birth of Gautam Buddha in 563 BC. Siddhartha Gautama or Gautam Budhha was a spiritual teacher and the founder of Buddhism.
The most important of all the Buddhist festivals, Buddha Purnima is considered the most auspicious of all the days in the year. The festival commemorates the Buddha's enlightenment and death. Although there are minor regional variations in the way Buddha Purnima is observed, the festival is generally observed by lighting oil lamps before the image of the Buddha, by reciting prayers or reading from the Buddhist scriptures and worshipping the statue of Buddha. Meditation and offerings of flowers, silk scarves, incense and fruit are also part of the worship rituals.
Bodhgaya (Bihar) and Sarnath (Uttar Pradesh) are, in particular, known for the Buddha Purnima celebrations which are held in these two cities.
Bodhgaya is the place where the Buddha attained enlightenment. The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya is decorated with colorful prayer flags and flowers. The Buddhist sermons offer special prayers under the Bodhi tree, where the Lord Buddha attained enlightement.
Sarnath is the place where the Buddha after attaining enlightenment in Bodhgaya taught his learning to the followers. A lot of visitors from around the world come to these places to participate in and celebrate the festival.
Though Buddhism originated in India, the religion has spread in places around the world such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Tibet.