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Guru Purnima is the day of Gurus or the teachers that have enlightened human beings in history and the modern era. It is true that without the teachers from ancient times till now, we would be nothing but still figuring out struggling with our doubts.
So this is the day to celebrate our educators that wrote all those Vedas, Epics, and the courses in this new age. This is a significant festival in India, Nepal, and Bhutan that is rejoiced by many religions like Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Everyone who celebrates this festivity pays respect to their teachers and express gratitude. The day falls in Ashadha (June–July) on the day of Poornima or full moon day as per the Hindu calendar.
As the time is changing, the practice of celebrating this day has been changed too. In colleges and schools, the day is celebrated by thanking all the teachers and presenting them with some gifts or a note to show gratitude.
Many competitions are arranged too in which students, as well as teachers, participate. Many students write a quote or poem for their teachers and recite it during the function; in return, the teachers bless their students for a bright future and prosperous life.
However, as there are new practices of celebrating this day, the old ones are still applied when it comes to celebrating the day traditionally. Let’s start with knowing the history of Guru Purnima-
There are various reasons why Guru Purnima is celebrated; however, the motive is the same, worshipping the Gurus. Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa or Ved Vyasa was born on this day. Vyasa was the writer of the epic Mahabharata and the creator of the four Vedas. His writings then became the reason to produce many Puranas and uncovered the knowledge about Hinduism.
This makes him a major contributor to Hinduism that the young generation now knows about all the Epics, Puranas, and the traditions. Hence to pay gratitude to him, we celebrate the day Guru Purnima.
There is another major reason behind the celebration of this day. Lord Shiva , who was also known as Adi Guru, decided to open his eyes and teach the Seven Rishis who were waiting for years for enlightenment. These Seven Rishis, we also know as “Saptarishis.”
After getting the enlightenment, Gautama Buddha went from Bodhgaya to Sarnath. He then went to his former comrades or friends to enlighten them. Using his spiritual powers, he understood that the Pancavargika would be able to understand the sermon.
On the day when he met his companions, he taught them the “Dharmacakrapravartana Sutra.” After which those people became enlightened, and this day was marked as Guru Poornima as it was a full-moon day of Asadha. From here, “Mendicant Sangha” also began in the Buddha community that soon involved other Buddhist Bhikshus (Beggars), and they went to teach Dharma in all directions.
Observances by Buddhist Monks
Several Buddhist monks practice Vipassana on this day. The day also signifies the beginning of the monsoon or rainy season that remains for three months from July to October. During this period, all the monks remain in their temples or monasteries, where they also dedicate this rainy season to their intensive medication to attain higher spiritual goals.
Many Buddhist people also utilize this timeframe to bring ascetic practices into their life, such as quit smoking, give up on alcohol and non-veg food. These people become a part of spirituality, and to gain mental peace, they adjoin themselves with meditation.
Celebration in Hindu and Jain community
In Hinduism, the day is celebrated as the birth date of Vyasa and his writings about the Epic Mahabharata. On this day, the Treenok Guhas are respected for their teachings dedicated to humankind. They celebrate Vyasa by conducting the Pujas in various temples, offering him flowers and several other gifts as an honor.
The feast is arranged for the disciples and shishyas. The Prasad and Charnamrita is prepared that is the nectar of feet wash of Treenok Guha. Accepting this prasadam is said to have the grace of Guha on the devotees that the person gets bestowed with knowledge and wisdom.
Other than worshipping Guha and saying Artis, the recitation of Treenok Guha Gita takes place too. Special hymns and bhajans are sung all day while reading the 216 verse Gita written by the sage Vyasa himself. There is a significance of worshipping Lord Vishnu on this day. Hence reciting “Vishnu Sahatranam” brings positive effects to one’s family.
On this day, disciples dedicate themselves to the service of their teachers and remember their teachings. Some also recite the mantra “guru brahma guru Vishnu guru devo maheshwara, guru sakshat parabrahma tasmai shree gurave namah.” The mantra means that Guru is the creator, he is the protector, destroyer of the evil, and Guru is the supreme God above all, so I bow upon him and show my gratitude.
In Jainism, it is believed that Mahavira, who was a very well-known Tirthankara, got his first disciple on this day of Guru Purnima. After that, all other Gurus started following him, and thus the day is celebrated significantly in the Jain community.
The Celebration in Nepal
Other than India, Nepal, too, celebrates Guru Purnima to show respect and gratitude toward the teachers. In schools, it is a big day where the students honor their teachers by offering them garlands and Topis that are special hats of Nepal.
They also prepare delicacies and offer to their teachers. Several fares are organized by the students, where they take the opportunity to admire their teachers by recognizing their hard work.
People also observe fast on this day to get blessed with immense knowledge and decision-making ability. Those who keep Vrat should refrain from eating salt, grains, and non-veg food. Only fruits, milk, and Vrat-friendly food should be consumed, such as Sabudana Khichdi, Halwa, and sweets like Soan Papdi, Barfi, Laddoo, or Gulab Jamun.
The Puja happens in the evening, after which people break the fast by having dinner. In temples, Prasada and Charnamrita are distributed that contain several fruits and sweetened curd that taste delicious.