The Uposatha (Sanskrit: Upavasatha) is a Buddhist day of observance, in existence from the Buddha's time (600 BCE), and still being kept today in Buddhist countries.[1][2] The Buddha taught that the Uposatha day is for "the cleansing of the defiled mind," resulting in inner calm and joy.[3] On this day, both lay and ordained members of the sangha intensify their practice, deepen their knowledge and express communal commitment through millennia-old acts of lay-monastic reciprocity. On these days, the lay followers make a conscious effort to keep the Five Precepts or (as the tradition suggests) the eight precepts. It is a day for practicing the Buddha's teachings and meditation.

Observance days

Depending on the culture and time period, uposatha days have been observed from two to six days each lunar month.

Theravada countries

In general, Uposatha is observed about once a week in Theravada countries[4] in accordance with the four lunar phases: the new moon, the full moon, and the two quarter moons in between.[5] In some communities, such as in Sri Lanka, only the new moon and full moon are observed as uposatha days.[6]

In Burmese Buddhism, Uposatha (called ဥပုသ်နေ့ ubot nei) is observed by more pious Buddhists on the following days: waxing moon (လဆန်း la hsan), full moon (လပြည့်နေ့ la pyei nei), waning moon (လဆုတ် la hsote), and new moon (လကွယ်နေ့ la kwe nei).[7] The most common days of observance are the full moon and the new moon. In precolonial Burma, Uposatha was a legal holiday that was observed primarily in urban areas, where secular activities like business transactions came to a halt.[7] However, since colonial rule, Sunday has replaced Uposatha as the legal day of rest. All major Burmese Buddhist holidays occur on Uposathas, namely Thingyan, the beginning of Vassa (beginning in the full moon of Waso, around July, to the full moon of Thadingyut, around October). During this period, Uposatha is more commonly observed by Buddhists than during the rest of the year. During Uposatha days, Buddhist monks at each monastery assemble and recite the patimokkha, a concise compilation of the Vinaya.[8]

Mahayana countries

In Mahayana countries that use the Chinese calendar, the Uposatha days are observed ten times a month, on the 1st, 8th, 14th, 15th, 18th, 23rd, 24th and final three days of each lunar month. Alternatively, one can only observe Uposatha days six times a month; on the 8th, 14th, 15th, 23rd and final two days of each lunar month.[9] In Japan, these six days are known as the roku sainichi (六斎日 Six Days of Fasting).

Names of Full Moon Uposatha Days

The Pali names of the uposatha days are based on the Sanskrit names of the nakśatra (Pali: nakkhatta), the constellations or lunar mansions through which the moon passes within a lunar month.[10]

Full Moon Uposatha Day Names
Associated Month Pali Sanskrit Burmese Khmer Sinhala Thai Days
January Phussa Puṣya Pyatho


Buss (បុស្ស) Duruthu Pusaya (ปุศยะ) 30
February Māgha Māgha Tabodwe


Meak (មាឃ) Navam Makha (มาฆะ) 29
March Phagguṇa Phalguṇa Tabaung


Phalkun (ផល្គុន) Medin (Maedhin) Pholkuni (ผลคุณี) 30
April Citta Chitrā Tagu


Chaet (ចេត្រ) Bak Chittra (จิตรา) 29
May Visākhā Viśākhā Kason


Pisak (ពិសាខ) Vesak Visakha (วิสาขา) 30
June Jeṭṭhā Jyeṣṭha Nayon


Ches (ជេស្ឋ) Poson Chetta (เชษฐา) 29/30
July Āsāḷhā Aṣāḍhā Waso


Asath (អាសាឍ) Esala (Aesala) Asarnha (อาสาฬหะ) 30
August Sāvana Śrāvaṇa Wagaung


Srap (ស្រាពណ៍) Nikini Savana (สาวนะ) 29
September Poṭṭhapāda Proṣṭhapāda/Bhādrapadā Tawthalin


Phuttrobot (ភទ្របទ) Binara Phattarapratha (ภัทรปทา) 30
October Assayuja Aśvayuja/Aśvinī Thadingyut


Assoch (អស្សុជ) Vap Assavani (อัศวนี) 29
November Kattikā Kāṛttikā Tazaungmon


Katdeuk (កត្តិក) Il Krittika (กฤติกา) 30
December Māgasira Māṛgaśiras Natdaw


Meukesae (មិគសិរ) Unduvap Maruekasira (มฤคศิระ) 29


The word "uposatha" is derived from the Sanskrit word "upavasatha," which refers to the pre-Buddhistic fast day that preceded sacrifices in the historical Vedic religion.[11][12][13]

In the Buddha's time, some ascetics used the new and full moon as opportunities to present their teachings. The Uposatha Day was instituted by the Buddha at the request of King Bimbisara, and the Buddha instructed the monks to give teachings to the laypeople on this day, and told the monks to recite the Patimokkha every second Uposatha day.[14]


Lay practice

On each uposatha day, devout Upāsaka and Upāsikā practice the Eight Precepts,[15] perhaps echoing the Buddha's teaching that laypeople should "imitate" arhats on Uposatha days.[16] The first five of the eight precepts are similar to the five precepts, that is, to refrain from killing living beings, stealing, wrong speech and to abstain from intoxicating drink or drugs,[17] but the third precept is abstinence of all sexual activity instead of refraining from sexual offenses.[18] The eight precepts are similar to the ten precepts observed by novice monks, except that the seventh and eighth precepts for the novices are combined, the ninth novice precept becomes the eighth, and the tenth novice precept (non-acceptance of gold and silver, use of money) is excluded as being impracticable for a lay person.[19] Thus, the final three precepts are to abstain from eating at the wrong time (after midday); to abstain from entertainment such as dancing, singing, music, watching shows, as well as to abstain from wearing garlands, perfumes, cosmetics, and personal adornments; and to abstain from luxurious seats and beds.[20][21]

For lay practitioners who live near a Buddhist temple, the uposatha is an opportunity for them to visit it, make offerings, listen to sermons by monks and participate in meditation sessions. For lay practitioners unable to participate in the events of a local monastery, the uposatha is a time to intensify one's own meditation and Dhamma practice,[22] for instance, meditating an extra session or for a longer time,[23] reading or chanting special Buddhist texts,[24] recollecting[25] or giving in some special way.[23]

Presently, the uposatha vows are mostly associated with Theravāda Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia,[17] but it was a widespread practice in China as well,[26] and is still practiced.[27]

The eight precepts are meant to give lay people an impression of what it means to live as a monastic,[28][29] and the precepts "may function as the thin end of a wedge for attracting some to monastic life."[30] The objective of the eight precepts is different from the five in that they are less moral in nature, but more focused on developing meditative concentration, and preventing distractions.[31] Among the eight precepts, the third precept is about maintaining chastity. Buddhist tradition therefore requires lay people to be chaste on observance days, which is similar to the historical Indian tradition of being chaste on parvan days. As for the sixth rule, this means not having food after midday, in imitation of a nearly identical rule for monks. Fluids are allowed.[32][31] Taiwanese physician Ming-Jun Hung and his co-authors have analyzed early and medieval Chinese Buddhist Texts and argue that the main purposes of the half-day fast is to lessen desire, improve fitness and strength, and decrease sleepiness.[33] Historically, Chinese Buddhists have interpreted the eight precepts as including vegetarianism.[34]

The seventh precept is sometimes also interpreted to mean not wearing colorful clothes, which has led to a tradition for people to wear plain white when observing the eight precepts.[31][35] This does not necessarily mean, however, that a Buddhist devotee dressed in white is observing the eight precepts all the time.[36] As for the eighth precept, not sitting or sleeping on luxurious seats or beds, this usually comes down to sleeping on a mat on the floor. Though not specified in the precepts themselves, in Thailand and China, people observing the precepts usually stay in the temple overnight. This is to prevent temptations at home which break the eight precepts, and helps foster the community effort in upholding the precepts.[37]

Monastic practice

On the new-moon and full-moon uposatha, in monasteries where there are four or more bhikkhus,[38] the local Sangha will recite the Patimokkha. Before the recitation starts, the monks will confess any violations of the disciplinary rules to another monk or to the Sangha.[39] Depending on the speed of the Patimokkha chanter (one of the monks), the recitation may take from 30 minutes to over an hour. Depending on the monastery, lay people may or may not be allowed to attend.[23]

Communal reciprocity

Describing his experience of Uposatha day in Thailand, Khantipalo (1982a) writes:

Early in the morning lay people give almsfood to the bhikkhus who may be walking on almsround, invited to a layman's house, or the lay people may take the food to the monastery. Usually lay people do not eat before serving their food to the bhikkhus and they may eat only once that day.... Before the meal the laity request the Eight Precepts [from the bhikkhus] ..., which they promise to undertake for a day and night. It is usual for lay people to go to the local monastery and to spend all day and night there.... [In monasteries where] there is more study, [lay people] will hear as many as three or four discourses on Dhamma delivered by senior bhikkhus and they will have books to read and perhaps classes on Abhidhamma to attend.... In a meditation monastery ..., most of their time will be spent mindfully employed – walking and seated meditation with some time given to helping the bhikkhus with their daily duties. So the whole of this day and night (and enthusiastic lay people restrict their sleep) is given over to Dhamma.

Special Uposatha days

In Thailand five full-moon Uposatha days are of special significance and are called puja:[40]

  • Visakha Puja or Visakha Uposatha [41] or Vesak ("Buddha Day"):

is the most sacred Buddhist holiday. It is the anniversary of the Buddha's birth, awakening and parinibbana.[42]

anniversary of the Buddha's delivering his first discourse, which is collected as the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. The three-month-long Vassa retreat starts the following day.
the end of the Rains Retreat residence during which time each monk atones before the Sangha for any offense they may have committed.[45]
  • Anapanasati Day:[46]

Anniversary of the Buddha's delivering the Anapanasati Sutta. This event is not connected to an Uposatha (Poya) day in Sri Lanka and perhaps is particular to Thailand.[47]

Anniversary of the assembling of 1250 monks in the Buddha's presence during which time he delivered the "Ovada-Patimokkha Gatha."[49]

In Sri Lanka, three full moon Uposatha or Poya days are of special significance.[50]

  • Vesak Poya, which is described above.
  • Poson Poya corresponds to the Jeṭṭhā uposatha, which falls in June. It is of special significance in Sri Lanka because the monk Mahinda, Asoka's son, officially introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka on this day in the 3rd century B.C.
  • Esala Poya corresponds to Āsāḷhā uposatha, the full moon of July, and is described above. This day has special significance in Sri Lanka because it was the day that 56 nobles, headed by Prince Ariṭṭha, became the first Sri Lankans to be fully ordained as a bhikkhus at Cetiyagiri in Mihintale by Mahinda and his companions. It therefore marks the founding of the Lankan Bhikkhu Sangha.[50]

In Tibet and Bhutan, there are four full moon Uposatha days that are of importance[51]

In China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam there are certain full moon Uposatha days of importance.

  • First Full Moon Festival, which is celebrated in Buddhist temples and also acknowledges the end of the Lunar New Year.[52]
  • Buddha's Birthday/Vesak

See also


  1. ^ For a description of the contemporary practice of the Uposatha in Thailand, see Khantipalo (1982a), which is also excerpted in this article below. Kariyawasam (1995), ch. 3, also underlines the continuity of the ancient uposatha practice in Sri Lanka: "The poya [Sinhala for uposatha] observance, which is as old as Buddhism itself, has been followed by the Sinhala Buddhists up to the present day, even after the Christian calendar came to be used for secular matters. Owing to its significance in the religious life of the local Buddhists, all the full-moon days have been declared public holidays by the government."
  2. ^ The uposatha day is sometimes likened to the Judeo-Christian notion of the Sabbath. Pali English dictionaries that define "Uposatha" as "Sabbath," are Buddhadatta (2002), p. 63, and PED(Rhys-Davids & Stede,1921-25), p. 151. For an example of the Uposatha being equated with Sabbath by a modern Buddhist master, see Mahasi (undated), p. 2, where he writes: "For lay people, these rules [of discipline] comprise the eight precepts which Buddhist devotees observe on the Sabbath days (uposatha) and during periods of meditation." Harvey (1990), p. 192, also refers to the uposatha as "sabbath-like."
  3. ^ Thanissaro (1997b); Anguttara Nikaya 3.70: Muluposatha Sutta.
  4. ^ , with the full moon being the most important one, followed by the new moon. Each lunar month has eight days after both the new moon and full moon Uposatha days and then either six or seven days after the other two quarter moon Uposatha days. Thus, in relation to the Gregorian calendar's seven-day week, sometimes there are two uposatha days in a week (such as occurred the week of August 17, 2006, when uposatha days fell on August 17 and August 23, 2006) and sometimes there are none (such as occurred the week of January 15, 2006, which fell between uposatha days on January 14 and January 22, 2006). Nonetheless, there are four uposatha days a month and the average solar month's week has one uposatha day.
  5. ^ More specifically, using a Buddhist calendar, Uposatha is observed on the following four days of the lunar month (PTS, 1921-25, pp. 151-2):
    • first (new moon)
    • eighth (first quarter or waxing moon)
    • fifteenth (full moon)
    • twenty-third (last quarter or waning moon)
    According to the Pali English Dictionary (Rhys Davids and Stede, 1921-25, pp. 16, 152), the lunar month's eighth day (that is, the eighth day after the new moon) and twenty-third day (which is the eighth day after the full moon) are called in Pali atthama, which literally means the "eighth," that is, the eighth day of the lunar half-month.
  6. ^ Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999), pp. 24, 307 n. 26. Nyanaponika & Bodhi refers to the quarter-moon days as "semi-Uposatha." Harvey (1990), p. 192, states that the uposatha is observed "at the full-moon, new-moon and, less importantly, two half-moon days." He goes on to state: "Except at times of major festivals, observance [uposatha] days are attended only by the more devout, who spend a day and night at their local monastery." Kariyawasam (1995), ch. 3, makes a similar observation in regards to modern Sinhalese society: "The popular practice is to observe [the Eight Precepts] on full-moon days, and, among a few devout lay Buddhists, on the other phases of the moon as well."
  7. ^ a b Melford, Spiro (1970). Buddhism and Society: A Great Tradition and its Burmese Viscittudes. Harper and Row. pp. 214–228.
  8. ^ Buddhism: An Illustrated Review. 2. Rangoon, Burma: Hanthawaddy Printing Works. 1905.
  9. ^ http://ftp.budaedu.org/ebooks/pdf/CE002.pdf
  10. ^ See Nakshatra, Hindu calendar, Sanskrit English Dictionary by Monier Williams, s.v. 'nakśatra'.
  11. ^ Khantipalo (1982a); Ñanavara (1993), question No. 1 [1]; and the Pali English Dictionary(Rhys-Davids & Stede,1921-25, p. 151).
  12. ^ Khantipalo (1982a) also translates "uposatha" as literally meaning "entering [a monastery] to stay" but no other source supports this.
  13. ^ Dutt 1988, p. 73.
  14. ^ Rhys Davids & Oldenberg (1881), pp. 240-41. Also see Khantipalo (1982a) and Pali English Dictionary(Rhys Davids & Stede, 1921-25, p. 152).
  15. ^ See, for instance, Kariyawasam (1995), Khantipalo (1982b), Ñanavara & Kantasilo (1993) and Thanissaro (1997b).
  16. ^ "The Uposatha Observance Discourse" in Nyanaponika & Bodhi, 1999, pp. 216-18 or, using comparable wording, in Nanavara & Khantasilo, 1993
  17. ^ a b "Religions Buddhism: Theravada Buddhism". BBC. 2 October 2002. Archived from the original on 30 November 2018.
  18. ^ Tucci, Giuseppe; Kitagawa, Joseph M. (27 April 2018). "Buddhism - Popular Religious Practices". Encyclopedia Britannica. Archived from the original on 4 December 2018.
  19. ^ Nyanaponika & Bodhi (1999), p. 307, n. 26
  20. ^ Keown 2004, p. 22.
  21. ^ Getz 2004, p. 673.
  22. ^ Bullitt (2005); and, Khantipalo (1982a).
  23. ^ a b c Khantipalo (1982a).
  24. ^ Khantipalo (1982a), for instance, suggests reading one of the following:
    • Visakhuposatha Sutta ("Discourse to Visakha on the Uposatha with the Eight Practices," AN 8.43) (Khantipalo, 1982b).
    • Karaniya-metta Sutta ("Discourse on Loving-kindness," Sn 1.8) (Piyadassi, 1999a).
    • Maha-mangala Sutta ("Discourse on Blessings," Sn 2.4) (Narada, 1985).
    • Ratana Sutta ("Jewel Discourse," Sn 2.1) (Piyadassi, 1999b).
    • Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta ("Discourse on Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion," SN 56.11) (Thanissaro, 1993).
  25. ^ See, for instance, the "Muluposatha Sutta" (AN 3.70) (Thanissaro, 1997b) regarding Uposatha-specific recollections and Thanissaro (1999) for the general Buddhist practice of recollections. In the Muluposatha Sutta, the Buddha recommends practicing recollection of the Three Jewels as well as of one's own virtue (sila) and of the wholesome qualities that leads to rebirth as a deva. In this sutta, if one spends the Uposatha engaged in such a recollection, then that Uposatha acquires the name of the recollection, such as Dhamma-Uposatha or virtue-Uposatha.
  26. ^ Buswell & Lopez 2013, Baguan zhai.
  27. ^ Harvey 2000, p. 88.
  28. ^ Buswell & Lopez 2013, Aṣṭāṅgasamanvāgataṃ upavāsaṃ.
  29. ^ Tachibana 1992, p. 66.
  30. ^ Whitaker & Smith 2018, Ethics (sīla).
  31. ^ a b c Harvey 2000, p. 87.
  32. ^ Terwiel 2012, pp. 201–2.
  33. ^ Hung, Kuo & Chen 2002.
  34. ^ Watson 1988, pp. 13–4.
  35. ^ Buswell & Lopez 2013, Ugraparipṛcchā.
  36. ^ Terwiel 2012, p. 187, n.16.
  37. ^ See Terwiel (2012, p. 203) and Harvey (2000, p. 87). Only Harvey mentions China, and the sitting.
  38. ^ Rhys Davids & Oldenberg (1881), p. 281.
  39. ^ See, for instance, Buddhadatta (2002), p. 63, and Bullitt (2005).
  40. ^ Bullitt (2005). Bullitt orders these special uposatha days in accordance with the Gregorian calendar, where Magha Uposatha thus starts the calendar year. However, in accordance with Asian lunar calendars, where the new year starts in mid April, Visakha Uposatha is the first special uposatha day of the year. The lunar calendar ordering of these days is maintained in this article for primarily two reasons: Visakha Uposatha is the most important of the uposatha festivals; and, ordering these uposatha days in this manner (i.e., Visakha Uposatha [Buddha Day], Asalha Uposatha [Dhamma Day], Magha Uposatha [Sangha Day]) celebrates the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) in the order in which it is traditionally enumerated. Also see Kariyawasam, ch. 3, "Poya Days," where he identifies the relevance of all twelve full-moon uposatha days in contemporary Sinhala culture.
  41. ^ "Vesākha" (Pali) is the second month of the Buddhist lunar year, usually occurring in the Gregorian calendar's February. In Thailand this day is called 'Visakha Puja.' The word puja means "veneration" or "offering" and in Thailand is suffixed to all Uposatha days. (Pali month names are from the Pali English Dictionary (Rhys Davids & Stede,1921-25, p. 531 s.v. "māsa").
  42. ^ For Mahayana Buddhists, the celebration of the Buddha's birthday is independent of recognitions of his awakening and parinibbana and is celebrated on the waxing moon of the fourth Chinese lunar month.
  43. ^ "Āsālha" (Pali) is the fourth lunar month, usually around July.
  44. ^ Pavarana Day is in the seventh lunar month of Assayuja (Pali), usually in October.
  45. ^ Rhys Davids & Oldenberg (1881), pp. 329-30.
  46. ^ Anapanasati Day is the eighth lunar month of Kattika (Pali), usually in November.
  47. ^ The Anapanasati Sutta ("Mindfulness of Breathing Discourse," MN 118) (Thanissaro, 2006) opens on Pavarana Day in the town of Savatthi where the Buddha declares to an assembly of monks that he is so happy with the assembly's practice that he would stay in Savatthi another month. After that month passes, the Buddha delivers the core instructions of the Anapanasati Sutta, instructions which have guided lay people and monastics to higher achievement for millennia. Thus, given this canonical chronology, Anapanasati Day is celebrated a lunar month after Pavarana Day.
  48. ^ "Māgha" (Pali) is the eleventh lunar month, usually around February.
  49. ^ The three-line Ovada-Patimokkha Gatha (Pali: "Patimokkha Exhortation Verse") (translated in Dhammayut Order in the United States of America, 1994) includes the Buddha's famous dictum: "Not doing any evil, doing what is skillful, purifying one's own mind, this is the Buddha's teaching." This verse is familiar to many Westerners because it is rehashed in the widely popular Dhammapada, chapter XIV, verses 183-85 (Thanissaro, 1997a).
  50. ^ a b See http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/kariyawasam/wheel402.html#ch3 Kariyawasam, ch. 3, "Poya Days."
  51. ^ Seagan, Danyel. ".:. Buddhist Calendar .:. ASTRAL TRAVELER .:". www.astraltraveler.com. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  52. ^ Davis, Edward L. (2009). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 68. ISBN 9780415777162.


External links

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The Abhidharmadīpa or Lamp of Abhidharma is an Abhidharma text thought to have been authored by Vasumitra as a response to Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośakārikā.

The text consists of verse and prose commentary. It currently survives as an incomplete collection of Sanskrit fragments. However, the text is valuable insofar as it confirms the identity of Vasubandhu as author of the Abhidharmakośakārikā.

Buddhist devotion

Devotion, a central practice in Buddhism, refers to commitment to religious observances or to an object or person, and may be translated with Sanskrit or Pāli terms like saddhā, gārava or pūjā. Central to Buddhist devotion is the practice of buddhānussati, the recollection of the inspiring qualities of the Buddha. Although buddhānussati had been an important aspect of practice since the early period of Buddhism, its importance was amplified with the arising of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Specifically, with Pure Land Buddhism, many forms of devotion were developed to recollect and connect with the celestial Buddhas, especially Amitābha.

Most Buddhists use ritual in pursuit of their spiritual aspirations. Common devotional practices are receiving a blessing, making merit, making a resolution, prostrating, making offerings, chanting traditional texts and pilgrimage. Moreover, many types of visualizations, recollections and mantras are used in Buddhist meditation in different traditions to devote oneself to a Buddha or a teacher. The often politically motivated practice of self-immolation is a less common aspect of devotion in some Buddhist communities.

Buddhist devotional practices can be performed at home or in a temple, in which images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and enlightened disciples are located. Buddhist devotion is practiced more intensively on the uposatha observation days and on yearly festivals, which are different depending on region and tradition.

Buddhist holidays

This is a list of holidays celebrated within the Buddhist tradition.

Vesak: Buddha's birthday is known as Vesak and is one of the major festivals of the year. It is celebrated on the first full moon day in May, or the fourth lunar month which usually occurs in May or during a lunar leap year, June. In some countries this has become an occasion to not only celebrate the birth but also the enlightenment and parinirvana of the Buddha.

Parinirvana Day: also known as Nirvana Day, a Mahayana Buddhist holiday celebrated in East Asia, usually on February 15.

Magha Puja: Magha Puja is an important religious festival celebrated by Buddhists in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos on the full moon day of the third lunar month (this usually falls in February or March)

Buddha's Birthday: Also known as "Hanamatsuri" it is celebrated April 8 and in Japan baby Buddha figurines are ceremonially washed with tea.

Asalha Puja Day: Also known as "Dharma Day" celebrates the Buddha's first teaching on the full moon day of the 8th lunar month, approximately July.

Uposatha: This day is known as observance day, there are four holy days on the new moon, full moon, and quarter moon days every month.

Kathina Ceremony: This robe offering ceremony, is held on any date within the end of the Vassa Retreat. New robes and other requisites can be offered by the laity to the monks.

Abhidhamma Day: According to Burmese tradition, this day celebrates when the Buddha went to the Tushita Heaven to teach his mother the Abhidhamma. It is celebrated on the full moon of the seventh month the Burmese lunar year which starts in April.

Loy Krathong: When the rivers and canals are full of water, this festival takes place in all parts of Thailand on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month. Bowls made with leaves, candles, and incense sticks, are in the water, and represent bad luck disappearing.

Madhu Purnima: It occurs on the day of the full moon in Bhadro (August/September). The day commemorates an occasion on which the Buddha retreated to the wilderness of Parileyya forest to bring peace between two quarrelling factions of disciples.

The Ploughing Festival: During the half moon in May, two oxen pull a plough painted gold. Following behind them are girls dressed in white scattering rice seeds. This was to celebrate the Buddha's first moment of enlightenment.

The Elephant Festival: The Buddha used an example of a wild elephant which is harnessed to a tame one to be trained. He said that a person who is new to Buddhism should have a special relationship with an older Buddhist. This festival takes place on the third Saturday in November.

The Festival of the Tooth: In Sri Lanka there is a temple that houses a tooth relic of the Buddha. It can't be seen, but once a year there is a procession for it on the full moon in August.

Hungry Ghost Festival: "Ancestor Day" or "Ulambana" is celebrated from the first to the fifteenth days of the eighth lunar month. This is the day when the monastics complete their Rains Retreat. It was considered that many monastics would have made progress during their retreat and therefore become a greater field of merit. Lay devotees make offerings on behalf of their ancestors and dedicate the merit towards those suffering in the preta realm to relieve their suffering.

Avalokitesvara's Birthday: This festival celebrates the Bodhisattva ideal. On the full moon day in March It represents the perfection of compassion in Mahayana traditions of Tibet and China.

Bodhi Day: The holiday which commemorates the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment.

Buddhist pilgrimage sites

The most important places of pilgrimage in Buddhism are located in the Gangetic plains of Northern India and Southern Nepal, in the area between New Delhi and Rajgir. This is the area where Gautama Buddha lived and taught, and the main sites connected to his life are now important places of pilgrimage for both Buddhists and Hindus. However, many countries that are or were predominantly Buddhist have shrines and places which can be visited as a pilgrimage.

Dodanthale Raja Maha Vihara

Dodanthale Raja Maha Vihara (also known as Sri Seneviratne Uposatha Raja Maha Vihara) is an historic Buddhist temple situated in Mawanella, Kegalle District, Sri Lanka. The temple is located about 4 km (2.5 mi) away from the Mawanella town. The temple has been formally recognised by the Government as an archaeological site in Sri Lanka. The designation was declared on 10 November 1978 under the government Gazette number 10.

Eight precepts

In Buddhism, the eight precepts (Sanskrit: aṣṭāṇga-śīla or aṣṭā-sīla, Pali: aṭṭhaṅga-sīla or aṭṭha-sīla) is a list of precepts that are observed by lay devotees on observance days and festivals. They include general precepts such as refraining from killing, but also more specific ones, such as abstaining from cosmetics. Probably based on pre-Buddhist sāmaṇa practices, the eight precepts are often upheld on the Buddhist observance days (Sanskrit: upavasatha, poṣadha, pauṣadha, Pali: uposatha, posaha), and in such context called the uposatha vows or one-day precepts. They are considered to support meditation practice, and are often observed when staying in monasteries and temples. In some periods and places, such as in 7th–10th-century China, the precepts were widely observed. In modern times, there have been revival movements and important political figures that have observed them continuously.

Householder (Buddhism)

In English translations of Buddhist texts, householder denotes a variety of terms. Most broadly, it refers to any layperson, and most narrowly, to a wealthy and prestigious familial patriarch. In contemporary Buddhist communities, householder is often used synonymously with laity, or non-monastics.

The Buddhist notion of householder is often contrasted with that of wandering ascetics (Pali: Pāḷi: samaṇa; Sanskrit: śramaṇa) and monastics (bhikkhu and bhikkhuni), who would not live (for extended periods) in a normal house and who would pursue freedom from attachments to houses and families.

Upāsakas and upāsikās, also called śrāvakas and śrāvikās - are householders and other laypersons who take refuge in the Three Jewels (the Buddha, the teachings and the community) and practice the Five Precepts. In southeast Asian communities, lay disciples also give alms to monks on their daily rounds and observe weekly uposatha days. In Buddhist thought, the cultivation of ethical conduct and dāna or "almsgiving" will themselves refine consciousness to such a level that rebirth in one of the lower heavens is likely even if there is no further "Noble" Buddhist practice (connected with the Supramundane goal of Nibbana, "Unbinding"). This level of attainment is viewed as a proper aim for laypersons.In some traditional Buddhist societies, such as in Myanmar and Thailand, people transition between householder and monk and back to householder with regularity and celebration as in the practice of shinbyu among the Bamar people. One of the evolving features of Buddhism in the West is the increasing dissolution of the traditional distinction between monastics and laity.

For all the diversity of Buddhist practices in the West, general trends in the recent transformations of Buddhist practice ... can be identified. These include an erosion of the distinction between professional and lay Buddhists; a decentralization of doctrinal authority; a diminished role for Buddhist monastics; an increasing spirit of egalitarianism; greater leadership roles for women; greater social activism; and, in many cases, an increasing emphasis on the psychological, as opposed to the purely religious, nature of practice.


Khandhaka is the second book of the Theravadin Vinaya Pitaka and includes the following two volumes:

Mahāvagga: includes accounts of Gautama Buddha's and the ten principal disciples' awakenings, as well as rules for uposatha days and monastic ordination.

Cullavagga: includes accounts of the First and Second Buddhist councils and the establishment of the community of bhikkhunis, as well as rules for addressing offenses within the sangha (monastic community).


A kyaung (Burmese: ဘုန်းကြီးကျောင်း [pʰóʊɴdʑí tɕáʊɴ]) is a monastery (vihara), comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of Buddhist monks. Burmese kyaungs are sometimes also occupied by novice monks (samanera), lay attendants (kappiya), nuns, and young acolytes observing the five precepts (ဖိုးသူတော် phothudaw). Kyaungs are typically built of wood, meaning that few historical monasteries built before the 1800s are extant. Kyaungs exist in Myanmar (Burma), as well as in neighboring countries with Theravada Buddhist communities, including neighboring China (e.g., Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture).

The kyaung has traditionally been the center of village life in Burma, serving as both the educational institution for children and a community center, especially for merit-making activities such as construction of buildings, offering of food to monks and celebration of Buddhist festivals, and observance of uposatha.

Monasteries are not established by members of the sangha, but by laypersons who donate land or money to support the establishment.

Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival or the Spring Lantern Festival is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar. Usually falling in February or early March on the Gregorian calendar, it marks the final day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations. As early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE-CE 25), it had become a festival with great significance. During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night carrying paper lanterns and solve riddles on the lanterns (simplified Chinese: 猜灯谜; traditional Chinese: 猜燈謎; pinyin: cāidēngmí; Jyutping: caai1 dang1 mai4).In ancient times, the lanterns were fairly simple, and only the emperor and noblemen had large ornate ones. In modern times, lanterns have been embellished with many complex designs. For example, lanterns are now often made in the shape of animals. The lanterns can symbolize the people letting go of their past selves and getting new ones, which they will let go of the next year. The lanterns are almost always red to symbolize good fortune.The festival acts as an Uposatha day on the Chinese calendar.It should not to be confused with the Mid-Autumn Festival; which is sometimes also known as the "Lantern Festival" in locations such as Singapore and Malaysia. The Lantern Festival has also become popular in Western countries, especially in cities with a large Chinese community. In London, the Magical Lantern Festival is held annually.


Lovamahapaya is a building situated between Ruwanweliseya and Sri Mahabodiya in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is also known as the Brazen Palace or Lohaprasadaya because the roof was covered with bronze tiles.

In ancient times, the building included the refectory and the uposathagara (Uposatha house). There was also a Simamalake where the Sangha assembled on Poya days to recite the sutra of the confessional. The famous Lohaprasada built by King Dutugemunu, described as an edifice of nine stories, was a building of this class. One side of the building was 400 ft (120 m) in length. There are 40 rows, each row consisting of 40 stone pillars, for a total of 1600 pillars. It is believed that it took six years for the construction of the building and the plan was brought from the heavens. The building was completely destroyed during the reign of King Saddhatissa.Whilst the Jetavanaramaya, Abhayagiriya and Ruwanwelisaya were taller structures, the Lovamahapaya remained the tallest building of the island for over a millennium between 155BC and 993AD. The small building displayed now is a recent construction and is the Venue of Uposatha (chapter house) of the Maha Vihara even now.

Offering (Buddhism)

In Buddhism, symbolic offerings are made to the Triple Gem, giving rise to contemplative gratitude and inspiration. Typical material offerings involve simple objects such as a lit candle or oil lamp, burning incense, flowers, food, fruit, water or drinks.Within the traditional Buddhist framework of karma and rebirth, offerings lead to the accumulation of merit, which leads to:

a better rebirth in the cycle of birth and death (Pali: vattagamini-kusala)

progress towards release from suffering (Pali: vivattagamini-kusala).These offerings often act as preparation for meditation.

Pagoda festival

Pagoda festivals (Burmese: ဘုရားပွဲ; paya pwe) are regular festivals found throughout Burma (Myanmar) that commemorate major events in pagoda's history, including the founding of a pagoda and the crowning of the pagoda's hti (umbrella). Pagoda festivals are dictated by the Burmese religious calendar and often are held several days at a time. Major events in a pagoda festival typically do not coincide with Uposatha (Buddhist Sabbath) days, during which devout Buddhists observe the Eight Precepts. The majority of pagoda festivals are held during the dry season, from the months of Tazaungmon (November) to Tabaung (March).More well-known pagoda festivals often attract pilgrims from throughout the country.

Pagoda festivals are similar in nature to agricultural shows (country fairs) or carnivals, and form a significant important part of cultural life, particularly in the countryside. During pagoda festivals, temporary bazaars (including food stalls and merchandise stands), entertainment venues (including anyeint dramas, yoke the performances, lethwei matches, and arcades) are set up in the vicinity of the pagoda.


Poya is the name given to the Lunar monthly Buddhist holiday of Uposatha in Sri Lanka, where it is a civil and bank holiday.

Full moon day is normally considered as the poya day in every month.

Prostration (Buddhism)

A prostration (Pali: panipāta, Skt.: namas-kara, Ch.: li-pai, Jp.: raihai) is a gesture used in Buddhist practice to show reverence to the Triple Gem (comprising the Buddha, his teachings, and the spiritual community) and other objects of veneration.

Among Buddhists prostration is believed to be beneficial for practitioners for several reasons, including:

an experience of giving or veneration

an act to purify defilements, especially conceit

a preparatory act for meditation

an act that accumulates merit (see karma)In contemporary Western Buddhism, some teachers use prostrations as a practice unto itself, while other teachers relegate prostrations to customary liturgical ritual, ancillary to meditation.


A sāmaṇera (Pali); Sanskrit śrāmaṇera, is a novice male monastic in a Buddhist context. A female novice is a śrāmaṇerī or śrāmaṇerikā (Sanskrit; Pāli: sāmaṇerī).


An ubosot (Thai: อุโบสถ, pronounced [ʔùʔ.boː.sòt]), phra ubosot (Thai: พระอุโบสถ, pronounced [pʰráʔ.ʔùʔ.boː.sòt]) or, for short, bot (Thai: โบสถ์, pronounced [bòːt]) is a building in a Buddhist wat. It is the holiest prayer room, also called the "ordination hall" as it is where ordinations take place.

The term ubosot, shortened to bot in Thai colloquial speech, is derived from the Pali term uposathagara, which refers to a hall used for rituals on the uposatha days -- the Buddhist Sabbath, which falls four times a month on the full moon, new moon, and eighth day after each.An ubosot stands within a boundary formed by eight boundary stones (Thai: ใบเสมา) which separate the sacred from the profane, and thus differs from a wihan (วิหาร). The sema stones stand above and mark the luk nimit (Thai: ลูกนิมิต), stone spheres buried at the cardinal points of the compass delineating the sacred area. A ninth stone sphere, usually bigger, is buried below the main Buddha image of the ubosot. The entrance side of most ubosots face east. Both ubosots and viharns typically house Buddha images. Across from the entrance door at the end of the interior is the ubosot's largest Buddha statue which is usually depicted in either the meditation attitude or the Maravijaya attitude.

Upāsaka and Upāsikā

Upāsaka (masculine) or Upāsikā (feminine) are from the Sanskrit and Pāli words for "attendant". This is the title of followers of Buddhism (or, historically, of Gautama Buddha) who are not monks, nuns, or novice monastics in a Buddhist order, and who undertake certain vows. In modern times they have a connotation of dedicated piety that is best suggested by terms such as "lay devotee" or "devout lay follower".


The Vassa (Pali: vassa-, Sanskrit: varṣa-, both "rain") is the three-month annual retreat observed by Theravada practitioners. Taking place during the wet season, Vassa lasts for three lunar months, usually from July (the Burmese month of Waso, ဝါဆို) to October (the Burmese month of Thadingyut သီတင်းကျွတ်).In English, Vassa is often glossed as Rains Retreat or Buddhist Lent, the latter by analogy to the Christian Lent (which Vassa predates by at least five centuries).

For the duration of Vassa, monastics remain in one place, typically a monastery or temple grounds. In some monasteries, monks dedicate the Vassa to intensive meditation. Some Buddhist lay people choose to observe Vassa by adopting more ascetic practices, such as giving up meat, alcohol, or smoking. While Vassa is sometimes casually called "Buddhist Lent", others object to this terminology. Commonly, the number of years a monk has spent in monastic life is expressed by counting the number of vassas (or rains) since ordination.

Most Mahayana Buddhists do not observe Vassa, though Vietnamese Thiền and Korean Seon monastics observe an equivalent retreat of three months of intensive practice in one location, a practice also observed in Tibetan Buddhism.

Vassa begins on the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month, which is the day after Asalha Puja or Asalha Uposatha ("Dhamma day"). It ends on Pavarana, when all monastics come before the sangha and atone for any offense that might have been committed during Vassa.

Vassa is followed by Kathina, a festival in which the laity expresses gratitude to monks. Lay Buddhists bring donations to temples, especially new robes for the monks.The Vassa tradition predates the time of Gautama Buddha. It was a long-standing custom for mendicant ascetics in India not to travel during the rainy season as they may unintentionally harm crops, insects or even themselves during their travels. Many Buddhist ascetics live in regions which lack a rainy season. Consequently, there are places where Vassa may not be typically observed.

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