The Importance of Guru Purnima, Story, Date, and More
The importance of Guru Purnima is due to its universality: most Hindus, Buddhists and Jains in India, as well as in other South Asian countries, recognise the importance of Guru Purnima. But what is exactly Guru Purnima? What is the story of Guru Purnima and how is it celebrated? What is the date of Guru Purnima, and how is it calculated? Is Guru Purnima a gazetted holiday or a bank holiday? To answer those and more questions, The Indian Rose has prepared a comprehensive article on The Importance of Guru Purnima.
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What is Guru Purnima?
Before we address more specific questions such as when do we celebrate Guru Purnima and what is Guru Purnima in Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati, let´s briefly recap what is Guru Purnima.
Guru Purnima is a religious festival common to Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions dedicated to celebrate the gurus, who can be both spiritual and academic teachers. It is celebrated on the full moon day of the Indian month of Ashadha. Guru Purnima is celebrated throughout the Indian Subcontinent.
On the day of Guru Purnima, students pay their homage to and express gratitude towards their teachers, both in ashrams and in schools.
For those on a spiritual path, Guru Purnima marks the beginning of chaturmas, a four months period of deep study of religious texts.
This is the brief answer to what is Guru Purnima. To understand more, read next chapter on the story of Guru Purnima.
Story of Guru Purnima
The story of Guru Purnima has different ramifications.
- For Hindus: Guru Purnima is celebrated as the birthday of the great sage Vyasa, who, 5000 years ago, edited the Vedas and wrote the Mahabharata and other pillar Hindu texts. It is also believed that the sage Vyasa organised the Veda on the day of Guru Purnima. That is why Guru Purnima is also called Vyasa Purnima.
- For Hindu Yogic tradition: Guru Purnima is the day Shiva became the first guru and began the transmission of the yogic knowledge, 15000 years ago, thus opening the possibility for awakening of mankind.
- For Buddhists: the story of Guru Purnima for Buddhists goes like that, the Buddha gave his first sermon to 5 monks in Sarnath on Guru Purnima, thus forming the first Sangha and opening the way for the Dharma to be transmitted.
- For Jains: the story of Guru Purnima for Jains is that on Guru Purnima, Mahavira had his first disciple, Ganadhara.
Common traits of the story of Guru Purnima of all 4 traditions:
- Guru Purnima is the day a guru started to transmit knowledge, setting the seeds for humanity to progress
- Guru Purnima marks the beginning of a 4 months period of spiritual activities, corresponding to the rainy season in India.
When do we celebrate Guru Purnima?
Purnima means full moon. Guru Purnima is celebrated on the first full moon after the summer solstice, which is the full moon of the Indian month of Ashadha. The Indian month of Ashadha corresponds to June / July.
What is the date of Guru Purnima?
Because the Indian calendar is based on a lunisolar system, Guru Purnima falls on different dates every year.
Guru Purnima 2018 date
Guru Purnima 2018 is celebrated on the 27th of July, which is a Friday.
Guru Purnima 2019
Guru Purnima 2019 will be celebrated on the 16th of July, which is a Tuesday.
Is Guru Purnima a bank holiday?
Guru Purnima is not a bank holiday in any Indian State, nor in Nepal.
Is Guru Purnima a gazetted holiday?
No, Guru Purnima is not a gazetted holiday in India and Nepal.
Importance of Guru Purnima
The importance of Guru Purnima lies in the importance of knowledge and personal growth, of which a Guru is considered a key figure in Indian traditions. Gurus have the capacity of linking humans with the divine.
The metaphor of the moon is used to represent the light of the guru reflected by the students, like the light of the sun is reflected by the moon.
A guru can come in many forms: it can be a spiritual guide, a God, an academic teacher, a parent and so on.
For artists, and especially for Indian classical dancers and musicians, a teacher or guru is particularly important. Because of the importance of Guru Purnima for dancers and musicians, this festival is very much felt in the artistic community of India.
Guru Purnima is also important for farmers, as it marks the beginning of the much awaited rains.
So the importance of Guru Purnima is not only relevant for religious or spiritual people, but for everybody, especially because what is even more important on Guru Purnima is recognising the guru within ourselves, the guru who will allow us to grow.
So, to summarise, the importance of Guru Purnima lies in acknowledging and being grateful to the first gurus, Vyasa, Buddha etc., to the other gurus in our life such as spiritual and artistic teacher, academics, parents etc., and ultimately to be grateful to God and the guru within ourselves.
How is Guru Purnima celebrated?
This is a general explanation of how Guru Purnima is celebrated, for a more detailed description of how you should celebrate Guru Purnima how to pray, how to do puja etc., click here.
- Hindu spiritual aspirants on Guru Purnima wake up early, meditate, fast, perform Guru Purnima puja for their gurus, and acknowledge the greatness of Vyasa. Padapuja (puja for the feet of the spiritual master) is also performed. This is how Guru Purnima is celebrated by devotees and those on a spiritual path.
- Buddhists: on Guru Purnima Buddhists meditate, and in the 4 months that follow, Buddhist monks are involved in ascetic practices.
- Indian dancers and musicians prepare special performances for their teachers, give them gifts, and seek their blessings.
- Many people perform a puja at home, meditate, pray, share prasad and give away greeting cards to the significant people in their lives. People also light lamps to symbolise the power of light over darkness, or knowledge over ignorance.
- In temples, Guru Purnima pujas are oraganised along with recitations of verses of Vyasa. The auspicious Guru Matra is sung.
- In schools and colleges students organise activities to entertain their teachers, speeches on the importance of gurus are made, and students make greeting cards for their teachers. Past alumni usually visit their past teachers.
- In Nepalese schools, Guru Purnima is celebrated in a similar fashion, but special hats called topi are also given from the students to their teachers.
Guru Purnima is also celebrated by setting goals for future learning and being serious about it, be it in school, arts or spirituality.
Now that you know how is Guru Purnima celebrated, let’s see how Guru Purnima is called in several languages.
What is Guru Purnima in Hindi
Guru Purnima is called Guru Purnima in Hindi too. In devanagari it is written as
The 2 words Guru and Purnima come from Sanskrit:
Guru means Teacher
The word Guru derives from two Sanskrit words, gu and ru.
The Sanskrit root gu means darkness or ignorance
ru is what has the power of removing darkness.
Purnima is the full moon day of the month.
A Guru is the one who removes the darkness and ignorance and enlightens the world with knowledge.
What is guru purnima in Marathi?
Guru Purnima is called the same in Marathi, and written as
What Is Guru Purnima in Gujarati?
In Gujarati, Guru Purnima is also called Guru Purnima,
ગુરુ પૂર્ણિમા (Guru Pūrṇimā) in Gujarati script.
Now that you know all about the importance of Guru Purnima you can have a great one this year!