05/14/2014, 00.00
NEPAL
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Festival for Buddha's birthday, while studying to find the exact date

by Christopher Sharma
The Buddhist world celebrates the birth of Siddhartha Gautama, but new archaeological evidence points to the actual date being at least a century earlier. Historians and archaeologists at work, while festivities begin for the faithful around the world.

Kathmandu ( AsiaNews) - As usual, the first day of the full moon of the month of May, the Buddhist world celebrates the birth of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the first human being to reach enlightenment and therefore recognized as Buddha. In Nepal , the celebrations for his 2558th birthday are accompanied by a historical "mystery": new archaeological discoveries in fact would move the event by at least 1 century.

According to religious tradition , Siddhartha was born in 566 BC in Lumbini (southern Nepal). However according to historians, the exact date would be 623 BC. The discovery in January 2014 of a wooden temple in the ruins of the Tilaurakot palace - where the Buddha lived until he was 29 - has revealed different dates related to the life of the historical Buddha. Nepali Buddhism expert Dines Raj Panta explains: "Everything we know about life comes from texts and oral tradition, but the historical evidence is the oldest. It could even be 180 years earlier than believed up to now ."

To try to give an answer to the question, historians and archaeologists have extended the investigation of the new discovery: these will last at least a year, compared to the expected 3 months. Nepali Minister of Culture Bhim Acharya has said: "We will leave this task to the experts. Until they produce evidence, we will go on as usual". Mahabir, a monk in Karhmandu, is of the same opinion : "We rely on history and tradition. If they were to get evidence, we will celebrate another date".

 

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