When is Guru Purnima 2021? The meaning of the festival and why and how Hindus, Jains and Buddhists celebrate

The word Guru derives its meaning from the language of Sanskrit, where ‘gu’ means darkness and ‘ru’ means removal of darkness

Buddhist monks offer prayers during "Guru Purnima" festival celebrations at the Maha Bodhi Society in Bangalore in 2019 (Picture: Getty Images)
Buddhist monks offer prayers during "Guru Purnima" festival celebrations at the Maha Bodhi Society in Bangalore in 2019 (Picture: Getty Images)

Guru Purnima is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists across India and Nepal, and is sometimes referred to as ‘teachers day’.

However, it does not relate to school teachers, rather to teachers of wisdom or ‘gurus’.

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The Indian Times described teachers and mentors as guides, leading people on the right path and the day is when people can reflect on and thank their life’s teachers.

Buddhist monks light candles during Guru Purnima festival celebrations at the Maha Bodhi Society in Bangalore (Picture: Getty Images)

So, when is Guru Purnima 2021 and how is the special occasion celebrated across the world? This is what you need to know.

When is Guru Purnima 2021?

Guru Purnima will be celebrated on 24 July 2021.

The date varies each year, as it is based on the full moon day during Ashadha month - which falls between June and July in the Hindu calendar.

Purnima tithi begins at 10.34am AM on July 23, and Purnima Tithi ends at 08.06am on 24 July. Guru Purnima will be celebrated on Saturday, 24 July.

What is the meaning of the celebration?

The celebration revolves around the traditions of ‘guru-sishya’, celebrating the important relationship between teachers and their students.

It marks the birth ceremony of Ved Vyasa, who wrote the holy book Mahabharata.

The day is recognised across India and some neighbouring countries, where in prehistoric times, parents would send their children to gurus and the teaching of these intellectual, mindful mentors have been passed down through shrutis and slokas.

Shutri refers to “that which has been heard”, such as songs which tell ‘eternal truths’, and are much similar in practice to Christian hymns.

Slokas refers to Sanskrit language verses of poems in scripture which have spiritual meaning.

The day is celebrated as a day to reflect on the importance of learning from gurus, who are considered God-like.

The word Guru derived its origin from the Sanskrit language where ‘Gu’ means darkness and ‘Ru’ means the removal of darkness.

How is the day celebrated?

During this day, people will bring their mentors or gurus gifts, visit temples and chant mantras and prayers in the hope of receiving blessings from the gurus who have enlightened them and brought them wisdom.

Millions of Jains and Buddhists celebrate by taking a bath in the morning and offering their gurus sweets and food.

Devotees who observe the day may also fast - abstaining from all food - in honour of the ancient gurus.

According to Hindu scriptures, Lord Shiva, the first guru of the world, gave the knowledge of Yoga to Saptarishis (the Seven Sages) for the benefit of humanity.

In this sense, yoga refers to more than the stretching exercises used in western society. In hindu, yoga is Yoga is part of a Hindu's spiritual journey which consists of movement, meditation and coming together to reflect.

On this day, many Hindus will take part in the various yoga activities.