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The Asalha Puja Day and Rains Retreat.

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

24-25 July 2021 Asalha Puja Celebration and Fund raising

The Asalha Puja Day is celebrated on the full moon day, of the eighth lunar month, (Asalha Purnima). This is usually in the month of July. It is one of the most sacred days in Buddhism.

The legends say that it is the anniversary of the day that Bodhisattva Siddhattha entered into his mother’s womb (Patisandhi). It is also cited as the day of 'the Great renunciation' (When Gautama left his family life in the palace and went in search of Enlightenment). It is also recorded that on this day, the Buddha delivered his first sermon after his enlightenment to the five ascetics and in so doing the Buddha established the Sangha Community. It was the day that the fulfilled 'The Triple Gem' (Tiratana); Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Furthermore , most importantly, it is the beginning of the rain retreat (Vassa), where the monks go in retreat for the period of the Monsoon.

The scriptures record the Buddha delivering his first sermon: ‘The Dhammacakkappavatana Sutta,’ 'the discourse on the turning the wheel of the dharma'. This discourse is regarded as one of the most fundamental teachings of the Buddha and Buddha's dispensation began. Thus Monks and lay people all over the world celebrate 'Asalha purnima' (the full moon day, of the eighth lunar month) as either/both: "The Dhammacakkappavatana Day” and/or alternatively the “The Sangha day”. The designation of the title of the day depends on community of Sangha and their agreements.

The Asalha Puja is also the beginning of the Rain-retreat that all Bhikkhus must observe every year. This is known as “Vassa”, a Pali word, which literally means rain; it is practised after Asalha Purnima. It is an obligation that every Monk should observe three months of retreat in one place. They should observe solitude and cultivate knowledge and meditation. In a full form ‘Vassupanaayikaa’ (Thai: Phansa) refers to living at one place or monastery for three months. Therefore, traditionally all the Sangha members must observe this retreat for three months during the rainy season.

The Activities involved

The celebration starts from the very first day of the Vassa, with the offer of ‘Rain Bathing Clothes’ (Vassaavaasika) to the monks; candles and other necessities are donated to the temple. The first person to offer the bathing cloth, was the generous Vishakha upasika at the time of the Buddha. Buddhist monks and lay people also observe the Vassa together, to enhance their spiritual development and life.

Venerable Monks, respectfully, take this opportunity to make a resolution to remain at the place for three months to practice with a strong dedication, the Dhamma (the Buddha's teaching) and the Vinaya (the Buddha's Monastic Discipline). They also take this opportunity to bless and instruct the people.

The lay people, similarly, take the opportunity of the Vassa retreat time to practice: wholesome deeds by observing at least the five precepts or Eight Precepts; attending Dhamma sermons; offering dana (gifts/food to the monks); learning and practising meditation; and learning to purify their minds. The goal of this is: to lead to the end of their suffering and to gain ultimate happiness in their life.

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Anumodana sadhu Sadhu Sadhu

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