Buddhism is a tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development leading to insight into the true nature of reality. It does not include the idea of worshipping a creator god, rather it include the practices like meditation which are meant for changing oneself.
There are many special days and festivals throughout the year by the Buddhist community. Many Buddhists consider participation in festivals and celebrations are important aspect of Buddhist practice and meditation. Some festivals are celebrated on the basis of lunar calendar. There are four-monthly holy days in Buddhism which is observed by lay followers and monastic’s throughout the world of Theravada Buddhism. Uposatha day is for “the cleansing of the defiled mind” which resulted in inner calm and joy. It is observed mostly in the Theravada countries which are occurred according to the lunar calendar.
For monastic, these are often days of more intensive reflection and medication. In many monasteries, physical labor like construction projects, repairs etc. are curtailed on this day. It is the day for practicing the Buddha’s teachings and meditation. For lay practitioners, the Uposatha is an opportunity for them to visit a local monastery in order to make special offerings, listen to Dhamma and to practice meditation with Dhamma companions.
These are five important Uposatha days in the Buddhism culture:-
- Visakha Puja- It is the most sacred Buddhist day sometimes called as ‘Buddha Day’. It commemorates three key events of Buddha’s life i.e. his birth, Awakening and final Unbinding. It comes usually in May.
- Asalha Puja- It is also called as Dhamma day. It is marked as the first preaching of the Buddha which He gave to the five monks. The day also marks the beginning of the annual Rains Retreat. It comes usually in July.
- Pavarana day- The Rain Retreat which begins on the day following the Dhamma day continued for three months. In the following month, the Kathina ceremony is held in which laity come together to make formal offerings of robe cloth and other requisites to the Sangha. It comes usually in October.
- Magha Puja– It is also regarded as ‘Sangha Day’. It has marked as the most important event in the life of the Buddha when without taking His appointment, 1250 arahants gathered at the Monastery. In this assembly, Buddha delivered the Ovada-Patimokkha Gatha. It is a summary of the main points of the Dhamma. It comes usually in February.
- Anapanasati Day– When the Rains Retreat came to an end, the Buddha was so pleased with the development of the assembled monks. So much that He urged them to extend their retreat for yet another month. It comes usually in November.
Buddhist New Year is celebrated on different days in different countries. In Theravadin countries include Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Lao, New Year celebration goes for three days from the first full moon day in April. However, in Mahayana countries, it is celebrated on the first full-moon day in January.