Lumbini Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in Nepal, just 26km from the border with India. It is an important pilgrimage destination for Buddhists along with Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Kusinara, because Prince Siddhattha Gotama (who later became Sakyamuni Buddha) was born there in 623 BCE.
Lumbini grove laid roughly half-way between ancient Kapilavatthu (the capital of Sakya kingdom) and Devadaha (the capital of Koliya kingdom), and was shared by the nobles from both principalities as a pleasure park.
The Buddha’s mother Queen Mahamaya travelled in her last month of pregnancy from Kapilavatthu to Devadaha in order to give birth to her first child at her maternal home, in accordance to the custom those days. En route, her entourage stopped at Lumbini grove for a rest. There she felt birth pangs and delivered the sacred child beside a lovely pond in the shaded grove. That very spot where the future-Buddha was born is now the site of Mayadevi Temple (photograph above).
“Before we entered the Mayadevi Temple, we sat under the protection of a large pipal tree, just a short distance from where the prince was born. We listened intently to the commentary of historical events leading to his birth, revelling in the sanctity of this place. My heart was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, for the opportunity to be here and pay respect to our great Teacher, the Buddha.
“It was his last birth after aeons of perfecting His virtues, for the purpose of attaining Buddhahood, and compassionately teaching it for the benefit of millions of beings. For over 26 centuries, great beings have followed in his footsteps to Deathlessness. I posed this question to myself “What will I do from here on to truly honour the Buddha?” To this day, this is still a question that I feel I haven’t completely answered to the best of my potential yet; but I will never stop striving to discover the answer.”