April 13, 2011
The birth of the Buddha was preceded by portents: In a dream, a white elephant holding a lotus circumambulated the Buddha's future mother, Queen Maya, three times before striking her on the right side with his trunk and disappearing inside her. The Buddha was later born in Lumbini, as recounted in our Mother's Day post last year:
At the time of the Buddha's birth more than 2,500 years ago, Lumbini was a grove of natural grandeur, bursting with rare and beautiful flowers, where bees of five different colors hummed. Queen Maya Devi was passing through this earthly paradise on the way to her parent's house in Devadaha, capital of the Koliya kingdom, from Kapilavastu when the pangs of labor hit. After bathing in a nearby pond the queen walked 25 paces, took support of a Saal tree branch and gave birth standing up. She died a week later.
Here's an image of Mayadevi holding onto the tree and giving birth—see the little Buddha emerging from her right side?