Buddha Purnima and Vaikasi Visakam Havan
Buddha Purnima during Vaishakha month is celebrated as birth anniversary of Gautama Buddha. Gautama Buddha whose birth name was Siddhartha Gautama was a spiritual teacher on whose teachings Buddhism was founded.
The time of Gautama Buddha’s birth and death is uncertain. However, most historians date his lifetime between 563-483 B.C. Most people consider Lumbini, Nepal as birth place of Buddha. Buddha died at the age of 80 at Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.
For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important pilgrimage site related to the life of Gautama Buddha. The other three important pilgrimage sites are Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. It is believed that Gautama Buddha obtained Enlightenment at Bodhagaya and he first taught the Dharma at Sarnath.
It is believed that Gautama Buddha obtained Enlightenment and passed away on the same day. Buddha Purnima is also known as Buddha Jayanti, Vesak, Vaishaka and Buddha’s Birthday.
In North India Buddha is considered as the 9th incarnation and Lord Krishna as the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. However Buddha is never considered as an Avatar of Vishnu in South Indian belief. In South India Balarama is considered as the 8th incarnation and Krishna as the 9th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Balarama is counted as an incarnation of Vishnu by the majority of Vaishnava movements. Even Buddhists don’t consider Buddha as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Vaikasi Visakam Havan
Vaikasi Visakam is observed as the birthday of Lord Subramanya Swamy or Murugan.
Similar to any other Hindu Festivals in India, Vaikasi Visagam also is celebrated according to the famous legend associated with it.
According to Hindu Puranas there were three asura (demon) brothers, Soorapadman, Singamuhan and Tarakan and they attained great powers through deep penance.
They were disturbing the Devas who pleaded Lord Siva for help.
As a result, Lord Shiva opened his Third Eye (Nettrikkan) - the one seen in his forehead and emanated six sparks of fire. Two of the five cosmic elements - Agni (god of fire) and Vayu (god of air), and the Devas carried these sparks to the Ganga who in turn carried them to a stream called Saravana Poigai.
In the stream, the fire sparks formed six divine male babies who were cared by six young girls called Karthigai Pengal.
Goddess Parvathi embraced these kids and they united to one with six faces and twelve hands. Consequently Lord Shanmugan (meaning one with six faces) emerged on the full moon day (Pournami in Tamil) in the month of Vaikasi. He is the embodiment of pure perception and divine knowledge.
Lord Murugan thus appeared for the special purpose of demolishing the evil spirits.
With the Sakthi Vel given by Goddess Parvathi, Subramanya (Murugan) fought the Asuras.
Eventually, on the request of Soorapadman’s wife, the Lord agreed to release her husband and made the demons as His flag (Seval Kodi - the flag with a cock emblem) and His vehicle - peacock (Mayilvahanam).
The war took place in Thiruchendur and the demon, Tharakasura, was killed in Tirupporur near Chennai.
To celebrate this, Devendra arranged the marriage of his daughter Deivanai with Lord Murugan. The battle with the demon is the story of the Kanda Sashti fast.
Hence, Vaikasi Visakam is observed at all Lord Murugan Temples in India as well as overseas to celebrated the victory of Lord Muruga over the demons as well as the Birthday of the Lord.