This practice is celebrated during the full moon in the month of Ashadha (June-July) by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains around the world to show gratitude to gurus.
The Legend Behind The Celebration
According to scripture, Parashar Muni was once traveling and ended up at the banks of the Yamuna River. He was then ferried across the river to his next destination by a fisherman's daughter named Matsyagandha.
Fascinated by her beauty, Parashar Muni created a thick impenetrable mist and blessed her with a son.
The son who born with a blackish complexion similar to the complexion of Lord Krishna was named as Krishna Dwaipana Vyasa, also known as Srila Vyasadeva.
According to Srimad Bhagwatam, Srila Vyasadeva is the seventeenth incarnation of Lord Vishnu who was born to classify the Vedas into four parts, as well as authoring the epic Mahabaratha. However, the avatar of Srila Vyasadeva is not part of Lord Vishnu's Dasavatharam (main 10 avatars).
He is considered the spiritual master of all acharyas and Vedic teachers as he simplified the difficult Vedas to allow common men to understand and follow them easily.
Guru Purnima marks the appearance day of Srila Vyasadeva.
The Age-Old Practice
On this day, sishyas (disciples) or students pay respect to their gurus or teachers. They offer them respect and gifts, and seek their blessings. Some even fast on this day to pray for the long life of their guru.
This festival is still widely being celebrated in countries like India and Nepal.