Festivals in Bodh Gaya
The day of Buddha Purnima is said to be thrice blessed. It is the day when Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born. It is the day when he gained enlightenment and became the Buddha and it is also the day when he gained parinirvana. Buddha Purnima or Jayanti falls on full moon in the summer month of Baisakh. It usually falls in the month of May but the actual date keeps changing.
On Buddha Purnima there are day-long prayers at the Mahabodhi temple and the Bodhi tree. The place is decorated with flowers as people pray to the gentle clanging of bells and prayer flags flutter against the azure sky. The prayers and chanting go on all day and as night falls devotees light butter lamps and sit quietly in meditation in the lawns. It is a calm, serene and unforgettable experience.
The Sri Lankan monk Anagarika Dharmapala had dedicated his life to the revival of Buddhist pilgrimages in India and his contributions are remembered on his birthday on 17th September and celebrated with special prayers.
Buddhists from across the world gather at Bodh Gaya once a year when the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of the Tibetan Buddhists presides over a ten day Kalachakra ceremony every winter. There are many religious rituals, prayers, gathering of monks and sermons by the Dalai Lama.