Originally a landscaped pleasure garden jointly maintained by the Sakya and Koliya clans, who were related by blood, Lumbini was located somewhere between their two capitals of Kapilavastu and Devdaha. Suddhodana of the Sakyas wedded Maya Devi of Koliya. who would become Siddhartha Gautama’s mother.
According to Buddhist texts, Maya Devi was travelling from Kapilavastu to her home city of Devdaha to give birth, in accordance with birth customs of the time. Stopping to rest and bathe at a pond in Lumbini, she went into labour, and gave birth beneath a sal tree.
The infant Siddhartha is said to taken seven steps and declared himself the bringer of peace, while also stating that this would be his last incarnation. In the accounts of some traditions, Maya then bathed her newborn in the nearby pond while in others, nagas or attendant deities bathe him; these accounts have established a ritual that continues to be observed in East Asian Buddhist traditions.
The entourage then returned to Kapilavastu where soothsayers prophesied that the newborn would grow up to become either a mighty ruler or spiritual leader of great note. Maya Devi wouuld pass away seven days after her son’s birth and he was subsequently raised by her younger sister, Prajapati, whom Suddhodana took as his second wife.
Today a Marker Stone identifies the exact location where the Buddha is believed to have been born. The Maya Devi Temple was built to protect it. Recent archaeological discoveries show that as early as the 6th century BCE, a brick base shrine was built around a tree. This extraordinary finding suggest that this could be the earliest Buddhist shrine identified in Asia.