Budhdist Holidays according the Theravada and the Mahayana

ACCORDING THE THERAVADA BUDDHISM

MAGHA PUJA DAY (MÀGHAPÙJA)

Magha Puja Day commemorates the spontaneous assembly of 1,250 enlightened monks to hear the Buddha preach at Veluvana Vihara. The day is also called the Fourfold Assembly because it consisted of four fortunate factors that happened nine months after the Enlightenment of the Buddha:

    • There were 1,250 Sangha followers that spontaneously came to see the Buddha.
    • All of the followers were Arhantas – enlightened monks.
    • All of them were direct disciples having been ordained by the Buddha himself.
    • It was the full moon day of the Magha month (March).

The Buddha gave his first important sermon on this day – The Ovadhapatimokha – to cease from all evil, to do what is good, and to cleanse one’s mind – which laid down the principles of Buddhism. The Buddha also declared that he would pass away in three months, so some believe that the Buddha might have used this event to make this announcement.

VESAKHA PUJA (VESÀKHAPÙJI)

Vesak is the holiest day of the year in Buddhism, one of the four largest religious families in the world. Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (c. 563-483 B . C . E .), who came to be known as Buddha, or “The Enlightened One.” The basic tenets of Buddhism can be summarized in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths are 1) the truth and reality of suffering; 2) suffering is caused by desire; 3) the way to end suffering is to end desire; and 4) the Eightfold Path shows the way to end suffering. The Eightfold Path consists of 1) right view or right understanding; 2) right thoughts and aspirations; 3) right speech; 4) right conduct and action; 5) right way of life; 6) right effort; 7) right mindfulness; and 8) right contemplation.

Vesak celebrates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death, or attainment of Nirvana. While these anniversaries are observed in all Buddhist countries, they are not always celebrated on the same day. Theravada Buddhists, who practice the oldest form of their religion and can be found primarily in Southeast Asia, observe all three anniversaries on the full moon of the sixth month. In Japan and other Mahayana Buddhist countries, these three events are celebrated on separate days: the Buddha’s birth on April 8, his enlightenment on December 8, and his death on February 15.

ASALHA PUJA (ÀSÀLHAPÙJÀ)

Asalha Puja is one of the most important festivals of the Thervada Buddhists because it celebrates the first teachings of Buddha. The Buddha’s first teaching is the turning of the wheel of the Dhamma (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta) to the five ascetics at the Deer Park (Sarnath) near Benares city, India.

He delivered his first sermon which consisted of the essence of all of Buddha’s future teachings. This is where one of his five friends, Kondanna, attained the first level of enlightenment. He was able to understand the Truths and asked Buddha to accept him as a disciple. This led to the simple ordination process that gave birth to the order of the monks.
Buddha’s first teaching consists of the four noble truths which are:

    • Dukka – life means suffering.
    • Tanha – origin of suffering is attachment.
    • Cessation of suffering is attainable.
    • The way to cessation is via the eightfold path.

ULLAMBANA BASIN

The 15th day of the 7th month Lunar calendar – Festival of the hungry ghosts, celebrated on the fifteenth day of the seventh month lunar calendar. The origin of this ceremony is to be found in the story of Maudgalyayana, who thanks to his divine eye saw that his mother had been reborn as a hungry ghost, and he wanted to save her; however, he didn’t know what to do. He went back to ask the Buddha the way to save his mother. The Buddha told him that only the combined effort of all Buddhist monks could help her escape her fate. From this tradition, developed the custom of offering food, clothes and so on to the clergy on Ullambana.

PAVARANA DAY

Pavarana marks the end of the three-month Vassavasa, the rainy season retreat observed by Theravada monastic communities. Commonly falling on the full moon of the 11th month of the lunar calendar, usually in October, this year the occasion was celebrated on 27 October. Pavarana means “inviting admonition”—an invitation to one’s monastic colleagues to give admonishments for any offences committed during the three-month retreat when monastic members lived together communally, thereby helping to ensure observance of the Vinaya, the regulatory framework of the monastic sangha.

Pavarana is also a welcoming ceremony commemorating the Buddha’s return from Tavatimsa (the Heaven of the Thirty-Three), the second of the six heavens in the Desire Realm. According to legend, seven years after he became enlightened, the Buddha went to the Heaven of the Thirty-three during Vassavasa to expound his teachings to the assembled gods, including his mother Mahamaya, who had passed away just seven days after his birth. The Buddha taught them the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the last of the “three baskets” that constitute the Tipitaka of the Pali Canon. After three months, the Buddha came down to the city of Sankassa, in the modern-day district of Farrukhabad in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Today, Sankassa is a Buddhist pilgrimage destination, and several schools of Buddhism have established monasteries there.

Pavarana is followed by the Kathina robe-offering ceremony for those monks or nuns who have observed Vassavasa. Up until the full moon of the 12th lunar month, lay Buddhists offer donations to the temples, and in particular new monastic robes, one of the four requisites of monastic life (food, clothing, shelter, and medical care).

ANAPANASATI DAY

Anapanasati Day – Buddhist festival celebrated followers of Theravada. Celebrated of the full moon of the tenth month in the lunar calendar. It begins almost immediately after the final holiday celebrations Pavarana. According to legend, at the end of the rainy season, the Buddha was so pleased with the achievements of their students, which inspired them to extend privacy for another month. On the night of the full moon, when it ended the additional privacy, the Buddha gave his famous teaching about the regulation of breathing, used during meditation (anapanasati).

ACCORDING THE MAHAYANA BUDDHISM

THE FIRST MONTH OF LUNAR YEAR

The first day of the month
Maitreya Bodhisattva’s Birthday.

The fifteenth day of the month
The day for seeking the merit and virtue of the Dharma body

THE SECOND MONTH OF LUNAR YEAR

The 8th day of the month
Celebrating of the day of The Buddha leaving the kingdom
Ānanda’s Birthday

The 15th day of the month
Ngày Đức Phật Thích-ca Mâu-ni nhập diệt.
Celebrating of the day of the Buddha entering Nirvana

The 19th day of the month
Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva’s Birthday

The 21st day of the month
Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s Birthday

THE THIRD MONTH OF LUNAR YEAR

The 16th day of the month
Cundi Bodhisattva’s Birthday

THE 4TH MONTH OF LUNAR YEAR

The Fourth day of the month
Manjushri Bodhisattva’s Birthday

The 8th day of the month
Celebrating of the Birthday of Shakyamuni Buddha

The 15th day of the month
VESAK day (since 20th Oct 1999)

The 16th of the month
The Rain Retreat (Vassa).

The 20nd day of the month
Celebrating of the day of Thích Quảng Đức (was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk) burned himself to death.

THE 6TH MONTH OF LUNAR YEAR

The 19th day of the month
Celebrating of the day of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva left home.

THE 7TH MONTH OF LUNAR YEAR

The 13th day of the month
Mahasthanapràta Bodhisattva’s Birthday

The 15th day of the month
Ullambana Basins (Festival of the hungry ghosts).

The 30th day of the month
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva’s Birthday

THE 9TH MONTH OF LUNAR YEAR

The 19th day of the month
Celebrating of the day of Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva’s enlightenment.

The 30th day of theo month
The birthday of Medicine Buddha (Bhaiṣajyaguru).

THE 11TH MONTH OF LUNAR YEAR

The 17th day of the month
Amitabha Buddha’s Birthday.

THE 12TH MONTH OF LUNAR YEAR.

The 8th day of the month
Celebrating the day of Sakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment.