Maya Devi Temple. It is the main temple at Lumbini, a site traditionally considered the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. Photo: Nepal Tourism Board's Facebook.
We all know that 'Gautam Buddha' was born in Nepal. However, there is always debate about Buddha's birthplace. Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, now in modern-day Nepal. He was raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilvastu and obtained his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, India. This is the fact and truth. Based on this fact and truth, going by its cultural, religious and historical importance, Lumbini was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 as the birthplace of 'Gautam Buddha'.
UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) says, the Lord Buddha was born in 623 BC in the sacred area of Lumbini located in the Terai plains of southern Nepal, testified by the inscription on the pillar erected by the Mauryan Emperor Asoka in 249 BC. Lumbini is one of the holiest places of one of the world's great religions, and its remains contain important evidence about the nature of Buddhist pilgrimage center from as early as the 3rd century BC. However, some people are still trying to twist this fact about 'Gautam Buddha'.
When somebody writes about the birthplace of Gautam Buddha and says Buddha wasn't born in Nepal, it's enough to make Nepali people furious. In 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Lord Gautama Buddha was born in India. While addressing Indian community in California he said, "We are from the country where Buddha and Gandhi were born." Nepalese all around the world opposed that statement. In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the land of Nepal and said Buddha was born in Nepal in his address to Nepal's parliament. He got a big round of applause at that time. The birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam is a disputed issue as some Indian school textbooks state that Siddhartha Gautam was born in India. However, United Nation is clear about the fact of Buddha's birthplace. According to United Nations, as the birthplace of the Lord Buddha testified by the inscription on the Ashoka Pillar, the sacred area in Lumbini is one of the holiest and significant places for one of the world's great religions.
Peace Lamp in Lumbini. Photo: Nepal Tourism Board's Facebook.
On the one hand, it has been found that many website contents false claims that Buddha was born in India; on the other hand, Nepalese holds campaigns against this false claim. There is a kind of war. Nepalese all around the world are still posting about the fact of Buddha's birthplace on Facebook, twitter, and other social medias. They are trying to spread truth against false claims.
Few years back, All the residents of Nepal including all the organization working in favor of society and Nepalese diaspora had also raised the movement for collecting around 1 million signature from each individual to submit to the United Nations for saying that Buddha was born in Nepal. In order to educate the world population and bring the public awareness, a signature campaign under the title: 'Please Promote: Buddha was born in Nepal and Mt. Everest is in Nepal', was initiated by Prem Guragain in 2012. One Million Signatures were collected online as well as offline and were submitted to the United Nations in 2014. Nepalese campaigns against false claims are still on.
This year, Nepal is ready to celebrate the 2560th Buddha Jayanti (the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha) on May 21. The government of Nepal has made preparations for celebrating the Buddha Jayanti in Lumbini on May 21. However, the International Buddhist Conference is being held in Katmandu. The government of Nepal has invited United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and other dignitaries to celebrate 2560th Buddha Jayanti. Nepalese Prime Minister has expressed his belief that the conference with international participation will help remove the confusion and prove that Buddha and the Buddhist philosophy started from Nepal. Nepalese all around the world are about to celebrate 2560th Buddha Jayanti with same believe and hope.
Meantime, Nepalese New Yorkers are going to celebrate 2560th Buddha Jayanti in New York on May 21. Himalayan Buddhist community of Nepal in the USA has made preparations for celebrating the Buddha Jayanti in Jackson Heights, New York. Hyolmo Society of America and other several organizations will support this event. This program may help remove the confusion about Gautam Buddha and his birthplace.
May this Buddha Jayanti (the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha) spread the message of peace and happiness around the world! Happy Buddha Jayanti!