Considered to be the ninth avatar of Vishnu. Buddha Jayanti or Buddha Purnima is marked as the most important day, commomerating the three most significant events in the life of Gautama Buddha that occurred on the same day. His birth, enlightenment and death (nirvana), all happened in the month of Vaishak, on a full moon night in April/May. Thus, this makes the day - called Buddha Purnima Festival or Buddha Jayanti Festival- all the more sacred for Buddhists.
Gautama was born as Siddhartha in the Kshatria caste of the Shakya clan in 566 B.C. in Kalpataru, now Lumbini in present day Nepal. Popular legends represent him as the son of a great king, brought up amidst the luxuries of a palace. As he grew into manhood, Siddhartha was caught by the sufferings of the world (old age, disease and death being important of them), left his riches to become an ascetic and sought higher truth. After years of study, meditation and sacrifice, he is known to have found the Nirvana and became the Buddha or the completely enlightened.
Buddhism is one of the most ancient and highly philosophical Indian tradition. "Buddha" means "Awakened One", someone who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and sees things as they actually are. Buddhism, is Buddha's teachings and the inner experiences or realizations of these teachings. Buddha have eighty-four thousand teachings. All these teachings and the inner realizations of them constitute Buddhism.
The day falls in the Vaishaka month of the Indian calendar. Prayers, sermons and non-stop recitations of Buddhist scriptures resonate in monasteries, religious halls and homes. In monasteries in Sikkim, monks hold day-long readings of the scriptures before the Buddha's statue. The lay people listen to these recitals, and also give gifts to the monks and the statue.
The statue of Buddha, in fact, receives special attention everywhere, with people offering it incense, flowers, candles and fruits. The Banyan tree - called the Bodhi tree for its part in Buddha's enlightenment - also receives a fair share of garlands and coloured flags adorn it. People also sprinkle milk and scented waters on its roots and light rows of lamps around it.