Today is a holiday celebrated by Buddhists around the world… Buddha’s birthday!
I didn’t realize it was today until I saw the “day in pictures” on the BBC website which had one photo commemorating Buddha’s birthday in Hong Kong. If I had known I would have asked P’s dad about it when we spoke the other night. Although P’s father’s family is more traditionally Hindu, P’s mom’s family is more traditionally Buddhist (but she celebrates both festivals… the line is blurred between Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal anyway), and I wonder if she is doing anything special for Buddha Purnima today.
Last time we were in Nepal she was telling me that she thinks deep down I’m Buddhist, in part, because I am vegetarian. I’ve struggled a lot with religion in the past (that is a post in and of itself), and although I don’t really consider myself spiritually anything specific, my ideology is probably closest aligned to the general concepts of Buddhism. I feel like I could learn the most from its teachings and that its philosophies could best help lead me toward a positive and moral life, but in many ways I still shy away from religion in general. I digress…
Various countries around the world have their own celebratory way to commemorate Buddha’s birth. According to Wikipedia some people in Nepal celebrate by keeping a “gentle and serene fervor, keeping in mind the very nature of Buddhism.” Celebrants might dress in pure white, and avoid non-veg food. In addition kheer (sweet rice pudding) is eaten to “recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Guatama Buddha’s life, offered him a bowl of milk porridge after he had given up the path of asceticism following six years of extreme austerity. This event was one major link in his enlightenment.” I don’t really need an excuse to eat kheer (mmmm, kheer), but perhaps this will inspire me to make some after work tonight.
Since Gautama was born in a city (Lumbini) that now lies in present day southern Nepal, I thought it would be important to take note of his special day.
I meant to post a link a while back to the streaming video of a great documentary on Buddha’s life that PBS aired a month or two ago. I never got the chance, and it looks like now they have taken down the streaming video… but if you want to read a little more about it you can check out the website HERE.