Vesak is the major Buddhist festival of the year as it celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha on the one day, the first full moon day in May, except in a leap year when the festival is held in June.
The name Vesak is the first month in the Indian calendar
The Asalhiya Punnama or full moon day of the month of Asaara (June-July) is sacred for Prince Siddhartha’s conception in his mother’s womb, and his great renunciation and the beginning of the Vassa-Vasa (Lent) of three-month
rainy season by the Bhikkhus (monks) at every monastery. During this period they live within the parameter of a designated monastery. It is a mandatory event since the Buddha’s time. During that time monks observe the
Patimokkha (disciplinary code).
Another significant event of this full moon day is the delivery of the first sermon by the Buddha known as the Dhammachakkapavattana or the wheel of truth or righteousness to the five monks that attended on him at Isipatana
(modern Saranath) near Benaras.
The Assayujjiya Punnama or the full moon day of Assayujjiya (September-October) also known as the Pravarana Punnama. This full moon day signifies the end of the three month Lent of Bhikkhus. Other functions of the festival include the offering the offering of the Buddha Puja in the morning, feeding the monks in fornoon, illumimination of the monastery in the evening by lighting candles like the Diwali of Hindus, vows of Pancha Sila or Attha Sila by the elders and keeping the Sabbath (fast day). It is a day of great rejoicing and merry-making. Buddhists send up a kind of lighted balloon, made of thin paper, to the sky, called Phanus Baji, in the evening.
The Madhu Punnama is of historical importance because of the fact that a great schism developed between the two groups of Bhikkhus at a monastery at Kosambi (modern Kosam) in Allahabad. The Buddha having failed to pacify
the quarreling monks, retired to a forest whire he was entertained with fruit and honey by a wild elephant and a monkey. Some scholars believe that the schism at Kosambi sowed the seed of dissension in the Buddhist Sangha
which later paved the way for division of Buddhism into two great schools: the Hinayana and the Mahayana. Among other festivities, honey is offered by Buddhists to the monks in commemoration of this significant event in the
Kathin Chivar Dana
Kathina or Robe offering ceremony is one of the most important festival of Buddhists, which is held in a monastery in a year beginning from the next day the Pavarana Punnama to the eve of the full moon day of the Kattikiya Punnama, extending nearly a month. The Dana mainly consists of trichivara (three robes) offered to the resident monk as well as the Bhikkhu Sangha after the expiry of the three-month Lent. It is significant to note that the festival cannot be held in a monastery where the resident monk does not observe the Lent. The Dana is regarded as a distinguishing feature of the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha in his various discourses in the Vinaya Pitaka lays emphasis on pleasure charity, morality of heaven, avoidance of lusts, disadvantages of sensual pleasure and merits of renunciation. The Dana is also one of the Dasa-Paramis (ten virtues) which the Bodhisatta is required to attain Buddhahood.
Pabbajja and Upasampada
Pabbajja and Upasampada
Pabbajja means ordination as a novice, which is done by donning the yellow robe after having shaved hair and beard and taking the vows of Tri-Sarana