Varanasi, Jul 13 (IANS): The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), under the aegis of Ministry of Culture, Government of India, celebrated the Ashadha Purnima on Wednesday, as the Dharma Chakra Pravartana Divas at Mulagandha Kuti Vihara, Sarnath.
UP Governor Anandiben Patel and Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi were among the guests who joined in the celebrations.
A video message from President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also screened on the occasion. This was followed by a compilation of the Prime Minister's speeches at various Buddhist events.
The Governor congratulated the Buddhists across the world for carrying on the tradition and practising the teachings of Lord Buddha. She also emphasised that the IBC has been a flagship platform to spread Buddhism in not just India but all over the world.
Both, the Governor and the minister went around the Vihara and were gifted replicas and items related to Lord Buddha.
The speakers underlined the essence of Buddha's teaching and the relevance of his words even today.
This is the annual flagship event of IBC and the second most sacred day for Buddhists after the Buddha Purnima.
IBC held the event at Mulagandha Kuti Vihara, Sarnath where the Sakhyamuni's Holy relic is enshrined.
This is in keeping with the historical legacy of India, the land of Buddha's enlightenment, his turning of the wheels of Dhamma, and Mahaparinirvana.
Many other dignitaries and patriarchs of Buddhist Sanghas, eminent Masters and Scholars from around the world and IBC chapters, member organisations participated in the event.
The focus of the talks and presentations was on the "Significance of Ashadha Purnima."
It also included a live demonstration of Nalanda Debate which involved two debaters arguing on their understanding of Dharma in the Tibetan language, with a translator explaining each one's arguments.
This demonstration provided a glimpse of the Buddhist version, nuances of the Dharma and its practice in the Monasteries around the country, as a learning method for the young Monks of today.
It may be recalled that it was at Sarnath that Buddha gave his first sermon, set the wheel of dharma in motion.
The auspicious day of Ashadha Purnima which falls on the full moon day of the month of Ashadha as per Indian lunar calendar is also known as Esala Poya in Sri Lanka and Asanha Bucha in Thailand.
The day marks Buddha's first teaching after attaining Enlightenment to the first five ascetic disciples on the full-moon day of Ashadha at 'Deer Park', in the present day Sarnath, near Varanasi.
This teaching of Dharma Chakra Pravartana Sutra (Sanskrit) is also known as the Turning of Wheels of Dharma and comprises of the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eight-Fold Path.
The rainy season retreat (Varsha Vassa) for the Monks and Nuns also starts with this day lasting for three lunar months from July to October, during which they remain in a single place, generally in their temples dedicated to intensive meditation. They are served during this period by lay community who also observe eight precepts and meditate under the guidance of their teachers.
The day is also observed as Guru Purnima by both Buddhists and Hindus as a day to mark reverence to their Gurus.
Meanwhile, the IBC, was formed in 2012 as a global umbrella Buddhist body with headquarters in New Delhi.