Today is a very special day in Thailand a public holiday and one of Theravada Buddhism’s most important festivals which celebrates the Lord Buddha’s first sermon at Benares in India over 2,500 years ago.
The Buddha preached his first sermon at a deer park and from this sermon, the Dharma (doctrine) of the Buddha was symbolised as a wheel. The Dharmachakra is also known as the Wheel of Life, Wheel of Law or Wheel of Doctrine and can be seen on flags in temples and buildings all across Thailand. Similarly, pictures or models of deer can often be seen at temples or in depictions of the Buddha.
The four noble truths are suffering ( dukkha) caused by craving (tanha) then a state of beyond suffering (Nibbana) the eightfold path then leads to Nirvana. All the schools and traditions of Buddhism revolve around this central doctrine of those four noble truths.
Such was the enlightenment of one of the five that he requested that Buddha accepted him as a disciple this wish was granted and thus the first order of the monks began.
Known Asanha Bucha in Thailand, The Theravada Buddhist festival takes place in July, on the full moon of the sixth lunar month known as the full moon of Cancer.
It is also celebrated in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Laos, Myanmar and in countries with Theravada Buddhist populations.
The day is celebrated by donating offerings and candles to temples and listening to sermons… Traditionally, candles are amongst the items donated to the wat for Asahna Bucha and processions featuring candles are held at various towns in Thailand.
The tradition dates back to the times before electricity where the extra light was needed at the temple during the darker days of the rainy season. Local people will also ‘wian tian’ which involves walking around the wat with a lit candle, lotus flowers and incense.
The following day is known in Thailand as Wan Khao Phansa or Buddhist lent; it is the first day of Vassa, the Theravada rains retreat.
Vassa is a three-month retreat observed by Theravada practitioners this takes place during the wet season and lasts for three months.
A 2-day alcohol ban is also observed during this period.
I hope you have enjoyed this little insight into the Buddha days here…
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