Asarnha Bucha Day and Buddhist Lent
Asarnha Bucha Day and Buddhist Lent (Khao Pansaa)
And yet again all the Bars and places of entertainment are closed for two days. Why ?? read on
The Buddhist Holy Day of Asarnha Bucha falls on the 15th night (15 kham) of the full moon during the eighth month of the Buddhist Lunar calendar , "Asarnha Bucha" means paying homage and worshiping on the day identified according to the Lunar calendar during the eighth month, Asanha being the name of the eighth month in the Pali language.
Asarnha Bucha Day is worshipped because of three important events occurring
on the day called the Triple Gem commemorating the first sermon given by
the Buddha called the Dhammachakapavattama Sutta concerning the our Noble
Truths presented to the Buddha's first five disciples. The sermon set in
motion the Wheel of Dhamma which is the meaning of Dhammachaka
The sermon concluded that
Secondly, the day is considered to be the birth of Buddhism as the Buddha departed the location where he obtained his enlightenment two months earlier and then coming to a forest area in the city of Pharansi where he showed favour to five ascetics who became his followers. Also recognized on the same day is the first person listening to the Buddha's sermon realizing the truths contained therein and becoming the first Buddhist monk creating the Buddhist order Sangha and is known as "Sangha Day" as well as Asarnha Bucha Day.
The Thai government established the observance of Asarnha Bucha Day in 1958, with Buddhist Temples throughout the Kingdom arranging ceremonies venerating the important historic events in the past. Devout Buddhists participate in the ceremonies by presenting offerings to the monks and listening to sermons and performing ritual prayers.
The entire day is revered and certain precepts are adhered to by
the more devout Buddhist or by those who have the inclination and opportunity
to do so. The Wientian ritual ceremony is performed in the evening as
many go to nearby temples bringing candles, flowers and joss sticks
completing three trips walking around the Temple area sacred grounds.
The day following the start of Buddhist Lent (Asahalabucha Day) another important Buddhist Holy day begins in Thailand with the custom called Khao Pansaa. This day falls on the first full moon (1 kham) of the Buddhist Lunar calendar during the eighth month of every year, which this year equates to 6 July and ends on the 15th full moon (15 kham) of the 11th month of the Buddhist calendar or in mid- October. During a leap year it is identified during the second eighth month.
The term "Khao Pansaa" can also translate to entering the months of the rainy season when monks return to the temple for the duration of the rains, usually to the temple where they were ordained staying for approximately three months. The monks are not to depart the temples staying overnight at any other location during the months of rain. Although, the rainy season is considered to be longer than three months lasting up to four or even more, monks are only required to remain at the temples for three of the four months. During the last period of the rainy season they can then go elsewhere when the Katin ceremony is performed presenting robes to the temples. In ancient times monks going into the temples during the rainy season was not yet a custom and temples were not yet established with monks roaming from one domain to another.
Monks continually went about giving sermons and instructing people in the ways of eliminating suffering and disseminating Buddhist beliefs during the entire year. This was unlike other religions of the time while most personages including merchants and heretics alike refrained from travel due to the hazards and difficulties involved. Initially, monks travelling during the rainy season concerned the idea that it was inappropriate to walk about during the rainy season for monks when many small living creatures were about and the rice crops were in the ground not to mention inclement weather. Therefore, it was established long ago that the monks would remain in temples during the rains for three months discussing and studying Buddhist scriptures, following Buddhist disciplines, meditating and performing ritual ceremonies. The custom of Khao Pansaa has continued on to this day with three classes of ceremonies, a Royal ceremony conducted by the King of Thailand, ritual ceremonies for devout followers of Buddhism throughout the Kingdom and ceremonies performed by monks in the temples.
The Royal ceremony is similar to the ceremony performed by the general
public but more elaborate as the King and members of the Royal Family
perform ritual ceremonies paying homage and presenting Khao Pansaa candles
and the traditional garments worn by Buddhist monks including other
items used in ritual ceremonies. Other followers of Buddhism all over
Thailand will attend temples in the morning bringing in foods, necessity
items, money, the traditional candles, garments and ceremonial items
for the monks with flowers and candles in hand. For those people having
devout faith they may refrain from the recognized eight offences for
the duration of the three month rainy season just as monks do, while
others may give up a single vice, with yet others recognizing the 5-8
offences for the day. The ceremonies performed by monks in temples revolves
around rituals accepting new monks taking the vows for periods up to
the three months with some staying even longer. Senior monks at each
monastery perform other ceremonies leading followers in worship and
The two main items presented to monks during Khao Pansaa are the
candles and garments worn by monks, specifically the bathing robe. The
candles were essential in former times and needed for both ceremonies
and studying scriptures and performing various other functions with
the candle offering developing into a custom still followed. The presentation
of garments worn by monks is said to have originated from methods of
bathing in former times commonly done in community areas using streams,
rivers, ponds and other sources of water with monks requiring a bathing
robe. The garments worn by monks continued to develop until the custom
included presenting the entire arrangement worn by monks. Khao Pansaa,
17 July, is recognized as a government holiday with many others taking
time from the work place recognizing the importance of the Buddhist
Holy Day. Everyone is invited to participate in the temple ceremonies
and to refrain from offensive behaviour for the day and to also make
the same effort thereafter.
Buddhism not only in thailand , but also in hong kong is a main religion