Buddhists across the world celebrate this full moon day as Buddha Purnima or the birthday of Gautama Buddha. Considering the importance of Buddha’s teachings and its relevance in today’s strife-torn world, the United Nations commemorated it through the International Day of Vesak in 1999. Celebrated widely across south east Asian countries, Buddha Purnima is also known as Vesak (though the date may differ for a few countries who follow a different calendar). While the day is marked with prayers and processions by monks, the biggest celebration takes place in Lumbini, Nepal.
There are some countries who have added their own ritualistic interpretation to the day. South Korea celebrates it with the Lotus Lantern festival, which many say is best viewed in Jogyesa Temple in Seoul. In Sri Lanka, Buddhists decorate their homes with paper lanterns. While every full moon day (or Poya) is important, the Vesak Poya is celebrated with much fanfare.
In Indonesia, Buddhists observe it as a three-day festival culminating on the day of Vesak. One of the popular rituals which draws a large number of viewers is the one where pilgrims walk in a procession from the Mendut temple, carrying the flame of eternal fire, the holy water and other Buddhist symbols, to place them at an altar adjacent to the temple in Borobudur.
Interestingly, while most associate this full moon day with the Asian Buddhist celebration, half way across the globe, it is observed as the Flower Moon. The American Indians too had different names for the full moon day, which became popular after the Maine Farmer's Almanac, dating back to the 1930s, began publishing these names. According to records, the May full moon being the second full moon of the Spring season, was named after the profusion of flowers seen during this time by the Algonquin tribes (who resided in the region which now forms the north-eastern United States). It is also called the Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.
In 2020, the May 7 full moon is also the last Super Moon that people will get to see this year. Astrologer Richard Nolle coined the term in 1979 to distinguish the full moon that occurred within 90 per cent of perigee (the point in the moon’s orbit when it is nearest to Earth). According to NASA, following the definition, in a typical year there can be three or four full super moons in a row and three or four new super moons in a row. For 2020, the four full Moons from February through May meet this 90 per cent threshold. The Super Moon will be seen at 6:45am EDT (4.15pm IST).
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