World ? Asia ? India

Buddha Purnima

8 May 2009 (annual)
Hours: Various
Cost: Various
The Buddha Purnima festival is a triple whammy celebrating the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death all in one. Buddhist sacred sites and temples all over India are inundated with pilgrims.
The crowds tend to be made up of more than just Indians - devotees from all over the world journey to their favourite place for the Buddha Purnima event.

The style of celebrations varies across the sub-continent, but all are awesome to be a part of as a spectator or devotee. In Sarnath, north of Varanasi, there tends to be a huge colourful fair on the site where the Buddha preached his first sermon. In Gangtok, East Sikkim, the streets fill with shaven-headed, maroon-clad monks who slowly process while meditating on sacred scriptures. If you are near Sanchi or Kusinagar, it's well worth a visit there too.

Although the celebrations tend to be less colourful in Bodhgaya (where Buddha reached enlightenment under the Bodhi tree), there is plenty going on in most of its monasteries, guesthouses and of course, the main temple.

Please note: this holiday occurs at the May/June full moon, and sources sometimes differ as to the exact date. Please check with the local tourist office before making travel arrangements.
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