Abhidhamma Day: Here's why it holds significance for Buddhists
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Wednesday visit Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh to inaugurate an international airport and attend an event marking Abhidhamma Day at Mahaparinirvana Temple.
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Eminent monks from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Nepal, Bhutan, Cambodia and ambassadors of various countries will also take part in the event.
What is Abhidhamma Day?
The day marks the end of three-month rainy retreat - Varshavaas or Vassa - for the Buddhist monks and nuns during which time they stay at one place and pray.
The Union culture ministry and International Buddhist Confederation, in association with the government of Uttar Pradesh, is organising the Abhidhamma Day on the auspicious occasion of Ashwin Poornima.
The story behind Abhidhamma Day
This day is mostly celebrated in countries where Buddhism is practiced by majority of the population. According to widely held belief, this is the day when Lord Buddha came back to earth from heaven.
He is believed to have gone to the heaven to teach Abhidhamma Pitaka (a basket of ultimate things) to his mother. The teaching took three months after which Buddha came back to Earth. His followers too mark the three-month time by staying at one place and praying.
Celebrations in Kushinagar
According to a Culture Ministry release, the highlight of the event is the exposition of Holy Buddha Relic being brought from Waskaduwa Sri Subuddhi Rajvihara Temple in Sri Lanka by the Mahanayaka of the temple.
These relics are accepted as real relics (bone fragments, ashes, pieces of Jewels) of the Buddha.
These relics were found in Piprahwa, Sidharthnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, about 160 km from Kushinagar, in 1898. A part of the relics was sent to the King of Thailand and another part was sent to the King of Burma.
The Prime Minister will offer prayers to the Holy Relic and also visit the Mahaparinirvana temple to offer flowers and Chivar (a monk's robe) to the reclining statue of Buddha.
Paintings of Ajanta frescos, Buddhist sutra calligraphy, Buddhist artefacts excavated from Vadnagar and other sites in Gujarat will also be exhibited.
Importance of Kushinagar
The ancient city of Kushinagar is the final resting place of Gautama Buddha, where he attained Mahaparinirvana after his death.
It is among the most important pilgrim spots for Buddhists since ancient times.