Madhu Purnima

Madhu Purnima Buddhist religious festival, celebrated on the day of the full moon in Bhadra, in commemoration of the service and support rendered by the animals of the Parilyeyok forest to Gautam Buddha. Madhu Purnima announces the greatness of charity. While Buddha was observing his 10th barsabas or monsoon rites in the Parilyeyok forest, an elephant and a monkey collected alms and gathered fruits for him. They also protected him from ferocious animals. Their help made it possible for Buddha to observe the rites with ease. One day the monkey brought a beehive, which Buddha accepted. In his joy at the Buddha's acceptance of his gift, the monkey started jumping from tree to tree and suffered a fatal fall. It was the day of the full moon in Bhadra. The day was named Madhu Purnima or 'honey full-moon' to commemorate the gift of the monkey.

Apart from celebrating the greatness of charity, the day is significant for its role in establishing unity among Buddhists. On this day, the viksus of Koushambhi ended the disunity in their ranks and went to the Buddha in the forest to take a vow of unity and cooperation. In his sermon, Buddha pointed to the elephant and said, 'This elephant lives alone in the forest in the absence of a proper partner. If you do not get associates with wisdom and high thoughts, it is better to live alone in this world, for foolish associates will only increase your suffering.'

The lesson of Madhu Purnima is that charity, service and unity are essential for human life. It is necessary to have mutual tolerance to establish unity. Sacrifice and service bring about changes in both humans and animals. On Madhu Purnima Buddhists worship Buddha with honey. A joyous atmosphere prevails in all the viharas on the day. [Sukomal Barua]

See also physiography.