Celebrate India - Buddha Jayanti
It’s better to travel well than to arrive.’ This is one of the countless teachings of Gautama
Buddha and it practically defines my entire lifestyle. Everything you need to know about me lies
in those eight words. I guess it’s true for all honest travel aficionados in the
world. Buddha made the statement thousands of years ago because he was also an avid
traveller like us. In fact, he was one step
ahead as he did it all on foot.
By the way, I chose to begin this post with
one of Buddha’s quotes because I am about
to share my experience of the Buddha
Jayanti (birth anniversary) celebrations.
And history says that he attained
enlightenment and nirvana on the same
day as his birthday. Therefore, this day also
marks the death anniversary ofBuddha. I
had the opportunity of celebrating this
festival in Sarnath, one of the four main
Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world.
Sarnath is believed to be the site of the
deer park where Buddha started teaching
the five ascetics who were his first disciples. And, believe me, even after thousands of years the
magic still lingers in the very air of Sarnath. On my first visit, I found the village so peaceful that
I understood why anyone would want to choose this site for meditation and contemplation.
Sarnath is a small village in the state of Uttar Pradesh, located at a distance of 13 km from the
holy city of Varanasi. There isn’t much to see in the village but during the festival, there are
prayer meets, sermons on the life of Gautama Buddha, religious discourses and a procession in
which the relics are carried out for public display. The village also holds a large fair. The most
prominent Buddhist structure in the village is the Dhamekha Stupa. It was built by
emperor Ashoka to mark the exact spot where Lord Buddha taught his first disciples. Other
structures of note include the Chaukhandi Stupa, whereBuddha first met the
ascetics, Mulagandhakuti Vihara, Ashoka pillar (only the base remains) and
the Sarnath Archaeological Museum which houses some interesting artefacts including the Lion
Capital of Ashoka, the national emblem of India.
That’s all there is for a tourist. But if you are looking for a little peace and quiet, Sarnath offers
suitable accommodation. For a regular visit, you could just stay in Varanasi and visit Sarnath for
a day. But beware; the magic might just rub off on you too. Personally, I think city folks like us
badly need the village air to calm our nerves and anxiety.
So here’s Joy, taking your leave and hoping that you discover the magic of Sarnath very soon.
Until next time,