Buddha Purnima [May 5]: History, Significance

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 5, 2023, 16:42

Buddha Purnima commemorates the day of enlightenment of Gautama Buddha and is celebrated by Buddhists living in East and South Asia. It is believed that Buddha attained enlightenment (nirvana) on the full moon day of May. Every year, Buddha Purnima is celebrated on the day of the full moon and it will be celebrated on May 5, 2023 (Friday) this year.

In Buddhism, nirvana or enlightenment is the highest state that one can achieve and every Buddhist must aspire to attain it. In this article, we have shared more information about Buddha Purnima, what it means and its significance for Buddhists.

Buddha Purnima 2023

Buddha Purnima is a holy occasion for Buddhists, who celebrate this day by praying and meditating. This occasion falls on the day of the full moon in May and commemorates the day on which Gautama Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, and passed away. Buddha Purnima is also called Vesak by Buddhists.

In the Buddhist calendar, the day of Vesak is the most important. Even the United Nations recognises this day because of the message of peace that it spreads. Learn more about Buddha Purnima from the overview shared in the table below.


Buddha Purnima


May 5, 2023




Till 11:03 PM


Buddha Purnima commemorates the day when Lord Buddha attained enlightenment

When is Buddha Purnima 2023

The date of Buddha Purnima varies every year and is based on the lunar cycle. This day is observed only on the full moon day of May and is the most important day in the year for Buddhists. In 2023, Buddha Purnima will be celebrated on May 5 (Friday), till 11:03 PM.

Buddha Purnima 2023 date and time is determined by Buddhist priests, who call the auspicious time to celebrate the day the ‘tithi’. Since the lunar calendar determines the date of Buddha Purnima, it is celebrated on a different day every year.

History of Buddha Purnima

The history of Buddha Purnima dates back ages ago when Buddha or Prince Siddhartha was born. Check out the complete timeline of the day here.

  • In 563 BC Prince Siddhartha was born in May on the full moon day.
  • He gave up on his title as prince and dedicated himself to meditation to understand the meaning of life and get rid of all suffering.
  • It is believed that he attained enlightenment on a full moon day in May. This day is known as Buddha Purnima, “purnima” meaning full moon night.
  • Later, he passed away, again on a full moon night.

Buddha Purnima Facts

Vesak is the most awaited day of the year for all Buddhists. On the occasion of Buddha Purnima, here are some interesting facts about this day.

  • The day of Buddha Purnima is recognised by the United Nations General Assembly, which encourages all the member states to observe this day.
  • The day of Vesak spreads the message of peace and non-violence.
  • Hindus believe that Buddha was the ninth avatar of Vishnu. So, many Hindus also celebrate Buddha Purnima.
  • This occasion falls on a different date each year because it falls on the day of the full moon in the month of May.
  • On the day of Buddha Purnima, many pilgrims visit shrines that are believed to be visited by Buddha himself.

How is Buddha Purnima Celebrated?

Buddha Purnima, or Vesak, is a big occasion that is celebrated in many different parts of the world. The following points share a glimpse of how some people celebrate this occasion.

  • On Buddha Purnima, people attend sermons or teachings of Buddha, recited by a Buddhist priest.
  • Places like Bodhgaya and Sarnath are believed to be holy shrines for Buddhists. So, every year on Buddha Purnima, these places organise fairs and other events.
  • Buddhists offer flowers and prayers to a statue of Buddha on this day.
  • On Buddha Purnima, people also offer “dana” in the form of food or clothes to the needy.
  • People spread the teachings of Gautama Buddha far and wide on this day.

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FAQs on Buddha Purnima

Q1. What is Buddha Purnima and why is it celebrated?

Buddha Purnima is a holy occasion celebrated by Buddhists around the world to commemorate the day on which Buddha attained enlightenment. Buddhists from South Asia and East Asia celebrate this day with much fervour as Buddha Purnima is the most important day of the year for them.

Q2. When is Buddha Purnima 2023?

Buddha Purnima 2023 falls on May 5, 2023 (Friday). As per the official tithi, Buddha Purnima will be celebrated till 11:03 PM on May 5. The date of Buddha Purnima changes every year because it depends on the lunar calendar.

Q3. Buddha Purnima is celebrated in which state?

Buddha Purnima is celebrated in many states in India because Indian Buddhists live in all parts of the country. Buddha Purnima is an important occasion for Buddhists and it is also celebrated in Nepal, South Asian and East Asian regions.

Q4. Is Buddha Purnima and Vesak same?

Yes, Buddha Purnima and Vesak are the same. Both refer to the same occasion, the day when Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment and left this world. This day is extremely important for the Buddhists, who celebrate Buddha Purnima by offering prayers and meditating.

Q5. Why is Buddha Purnima celebrated on full moon day?

Buddha Purnima is celebrated on a full moon day because Lord Buddha was born on a full moon day. He also attained enlightenment and passed away on a full moon day in May. Therefore, the day of the full moon in the month of May is celebrated as Buddha Purnima every year.

Q6. How is Buddha Purnima celebrated?

Buddha Purnima is celebrated by offering prayers to Lord Buddha. Buddhists also like to meditate on this day, read Buddhist scriptures and strive to attain nirvana, or enlightenment, just like Buddha. The Mahabodhi Temple of Bodhgaya, where Buddha attained nirvana, also hosts a grand event on the day of Vesak.