Buddha Poornima falls on the full moon night in the month of Vaisakha, commemorates the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha, founder of Buddhism. Pilgrims come from all over the world to Bodh Gaya to attend the Buddha Poornima celebrations. The day is marked with prayer meets, sermons on the life of Gautam Buddha, religious discourses, continuous recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions, and worship of the statue of Buddha. The Mahabodhi Temple wears a festive look and is decorated with colourful flags and flowers.
Lord Buddha attained Supreme Enlightenment beneath the Bodhi-tree at Bodh Gaya, in the state of Bihar, India. Forty-five years later at the age of eighty, he finally passed away in Parinivana on the same day of the year at Kushinagar. Vaisakha Poornima is celebrated especially in Bodh Gaya, Lumbini and in Kushinagar as they are the holy places that were connected with the blessed ones birth. Buddhists from Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Tibet, China, Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Mongolia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Nepal, Japan and quite a number of western Buddhists participate in the 'Vaisakha' Poornima Day religious activities in a festive mood. Sarnath the capital of Buddhism too celebrates Vaisakha Poornima day in a grand way. In most of the Buddhist countries the villages, roads, streets, temples and houses are brightly illuminated with color Lanterns, electric lights and colorful decorations.
Buddha Poornima in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) attracts large Buddhist crowd from all over. Varanasi is the oldest continually inhabited city of the world. With its rich cultural heritage and tradition Varanasi remains the cultural capital of India. It is also known as Benaras or Kashi and is situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh on the banks of Ganges. The city is famous for its pilgrimage and is one of the most famous tourist attractions in India. The city has always been famous for its colorful fairs, festivals and events. Almost every month some festival or the other is celebrated in this ancient city. The cultural life of the people of Varanasi is associated with river Ganges and its importance. Buddha Poornima in Varanasi is celebrated in this ancient city with religious fervor.
Lord Buddha is considered to be the ninth incarnation of Vishnu. Sarnath holds an important place for Buddhists because Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon there and that is why Buddha Poornima is celebrated with great dedication and devotion in Sarnath, 10 kilometer away from Varanasi. Since then Sarnath celebrate Buddha poornima as an annual festival. On the occasion of Buddha Poornima large fairs are also held. The Buddhist devotees bathe in the holy Ganges and put on white clothes only. They gather in viharas to worship, meditate and offer fruits, flowers and candles to the idol of Lord Buddha and spend their entire day there. On the Buddha Poornima day, people of Varanasi refrain from taking in meat. They decorate their houses with papers and cloth depicting tales from Jatakas. Besides Sarnath, Buddha Poornima is celebrated with the same fervor at Gaya, Kushinagar and all over India. Buddhists chant prayers to pay homage to Gautama Buddha and even recite from Buddhist scriptures. Buddhists devotees take out large procession and remnants of Lord Buddha for the common people. People gather in Sarnath to celebrate this auspicious day as it is the ultimate pilgrimage for the Buddhists.
Sarnath draws its fame as one of the main Buddhist sites in India. After he was enlightened in Bodhgaya, Lord Buddha came to Sarnath and delivered the first sermon. Stupas, Viharas and museums in Sarnath are abiding lure to the Buddhists across the world.
The little sleepy town lies close to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, which is one of the prime tourist destinations in India. So the best way to reach Sarnath is via Varanasi, which has an airport and a railway station within the city.
The nearest airport to Sarnath is Varanasi, which is an important domestic airport in India. Nearly all public and private airlines operate regular flights to Varanasi from Delhi & Mumbai. You may also approach Varanasi from Katmandu
Sarnath is only 10kms away from Varanasi by road.
The nearest Railhead for Sarnath is also Varanasi, which is one of the main Railway Stations in the region. A large number of important trains link Varanasi to the rest of India.