Buddha Day is actually the celebration of the birthday and the death of Buddha. Buddhists say that Buddha agreed to be reborn after the Gods asked him to do so in order for him to wander the earth and try to save the humans. Buddha agreed and was born on Baisakhi Purnima in 623 BC. When he was twenty-nine years old, Buddha went on a journey and found himself in Buddhagaya where he stayed and meditated for six long years. He then went to India where he spent forty-five years spreading the news about God and teaching religious principles. However, Buddha passed away when he reached the age of eighty. Hence, Buddhists celebrate the birth and death of Buddha on this day.
Following the Buddhist calendar, Buddha Purnima falls on the fifth or sixth lunar month when devotees go to the temples. As the Buddhist flag is raised, Buddhists make offerings of flowers and candles and are expected to abstain from eating meat. During the celebration no one is allowed to kill any livestock and all slaughterhouses are closed.
In keeping with the example and teachings of Buddha, Buddhists are also expected to extend assistance to others especially to those who are less privileged. This is a perfect day to practice the teachings of Buddha by performing acts of kindness towards others, which is considered the best way of honoring and paying tribute to Buddha by eternalizing and practicing what he has taught.
For a country which has suffered so much in the past, the celebration of Buddha day heralds a day of peace and harmony. The celebration of Buddha is one of the biggest religious celebrations in Bangladesh, as great value is placed on religious harmony and unity. Religious processions are also held during which pilgrims attend prayer services and make offerings in honor of Buddha who taught the way to attain enlightenment in life. Having been placed in high esteem by the Bangladeshi government, television programs commemorating the life of Buddha are broadcast, nationwide. It is indeed a day of solemn prayer but includes festive celebration too. The harmony displayed on this day can be seen from Buddhists who go to the temples, regardless of their age and sex, and join others in prayer. The only way to honor Buddha is to try to be like him, reflect on our own actions, bring peace to ourselves and to others, and live in total harmony. Like him, Buddhists also perform acts of charity to the poor and the needy by sharing the graces which had already been given to them. This important day serves as a reminder of cultural heritage and those who have made sacrifices amid the stress and tensions of everyday life. This is a day where inner peace and solitude can be attained along with spiritual nourishment.