top of page

FESTIVALS 

Magha Puja 
Vesak Day 
Asalha Puja 
Ok Phansa / Devo Day 
Kathia

MAGHA PUJA

This day, sometimes called "Sangha Day," commemorates the spontaneous assembly of 1,250 arahants in the Buddha's presence. One thousand of the gathered monks had previously achieved Awakening upon hearing the Buddha's delivery of the Fire Sermon; the remaining 250 were followers of the elder monks Ven. Moggallana and Ven. Sariputta. To mark this auspicious gathering, the Buddha delivered the Ovada-Patimokkha Gatha, a summary of the main points of the Dhamma, which the Buddha gave to the assembly before sending them out to proclaim the doctrine.

The spiritual aims of the day are:

  • not to commit any kind of sins

  • do only good

  • purify one's mind


Extracted from Uposatha Observance Days, edited by John T. Bullitt

Suggested reading: Dhamma for Everyone by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo

VESAK DAY

Significance

Vesak Day or Visakha Puja, is an extremely important day in the Buddhist tradition, for it was on this day that the Buddha was born, and 35 years later awoke to the unexcelled right self-awakening, and another 45 years later passed away into total Nibbana. In each case, these events took place on the full-moon day in May, when the moon is in the Visakha asterism, which is why the day is called Visakha Puja.

Every year when this important day comes around again, we Buddhists take the opportunity to pay homage to the Buddha as a way of expressing our gratitude for his goodness. We sacrifice our daily affairs to make merit in a skillful way by doing such things as practicing generosity, observing the precepts, and listening to the Dhamma.

Ordinarily, to commemorate a death, people cry and lament, wear black, etc., as a way of showing their mourning. On Visakha Puja — which is the anniversary of the day on which the Buddha, passed away — we show our mourning too, but we do it in a different way. Instead of crying, we chant the passages reflecting on the virtues of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. Instead of dressing up in black, we take off our pretty jewels, go without perfume and cologne, and dress very simply. As for the comfortable beds and mattresses on which we normally lie, we abstain from them. Instead of eating three or four times a day, as we normally like to do, we cut back to only two times or once. We have to give up our habitual pleasures if we're going to show our mourning for the Buddha in a sincere and genuine way.

In addition to this, we bring flowers, candles, and incense to offer in homage to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. This is called amisa-puja, or material homage. This is a form of practice on the external level — a matter of our words and deeds. It comes under the headings of generosity and virtue but doesn't count as the highest form of homage.

There's still another level of homage — patipatti-puja, or homage through the practice — which the Buddha said was supreme: i.e., meditation, or the development of the mind so that it can stand firmly in its own inner goodness, independent of any and all outside objects. This is the crucial point that the Buddha wanted us to focus on as much as possible, for this kind of practice was what enabled him to reach the highest attainment, becoming a Rightly Self-awakened Buddha, and enabled many of his noble disciples to become arahants as well.

Extracted from Visakha Puja by Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo


Activities

The temple puts together a series of activities to commemorate Vesak Day, which includes an exhibition corner, Dhamma books for free distribution, a children’s artwork section, an opening of the library, a candlelight procession, and Dhamma talks. Also, there is usually an eight preceptors retreat. More details will be announced closer to the date.

ASALHA PUJA

This day, sometimes called "Dhamma Day," commemorates the Buddha's first discourse, which he gave to the group of five monks with whom he had practiced in the forest for many years. Upon hearing this discourse, one of the monks ( Ven. Kondañña) gained his first glimpse of Nibbana, thus giving birth to the Noble Sangha. The annual Rains retreat (vassa) begins the following day.

OK PHANSA / DEVO DAY

Ok Phansa (lit. Thai for ‘exiting the rains retreat’) marks the end of the Rains Retreat for the Sangha. It falls on the full moon of the eleventh lunar month in October.

The texts from the Theravada tradition describe that the Buddha spent his 7th rains retreat in the Tavatimsa realm to teach the Dhamma to his mother Queen Maha Mayadevi (who passed away 7 days after his birth). The day of his descent from heaven to earth is Ok Phansa Day. In memory of the event, Buddhists celebrate the end of the rainy season with a festival.

On this day, the Temple’s resident monks will perform the Devorohana ceremony and pindapata (alms round) in the temple compound.

KATHINA

This event is to celebrate the end of the three months rains residence retreat ("vassa" in Pali or pansa" in Thai) and is the day on which the members and devotees get the opportunity to offer a set of robes or robe cloth to the Sangha.

The origin of the ceremony dates back to the 25th year after Lord Buddha's Awakening (Nibbana) when he undertook the rains residence at the Jetavana Grove, near Savatthi in the Kingdom of Kosala in India. On one occasion, a group of 30 monks from Saketa paid a visit to Lord Buddha to listen to his discourse. They were drenched by the rain and muddied during their journey as it was during the rainy season in India. As they did not have spare robes, they were unable to change their robes prior to seeing Lord Buddha. The lay supporters who were present took pity on them and requested Lord Buddha to make an allowance for the monks to be offered new robes.

Henceforth, Lord Buddha allowed the observance of the Kathina ceremony whereby lay supporters were allowed to offer robe cloth to the Sangha for them to cut and sew into new robes. This has to be carried out within the day itself and in Buddhist countries, it is a very important and joyous meritorious event at the temples. As there are many temples within each country/region, the temples are allowed to hold the Kathina ceremony during the one-month period following Devo day.

bottom of page