Asalha Puja

Asalha Puja Day (Asanha Puja, Asarnha Bucha, Dhamma Day) is a Buddhist festival that occurs on the full moon of the eighth lunar month, which is usually in July. The festival pays homage to the Buddha and commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon and the founding of the Buddha’s Sangha - four noble truths.

What Do People Do?

The day is observed by donating offerings to the temples, monks and listening to Buddha’s sermons. An important activity is to chant the scriptures telling of this event in the original Pali language.

All temples in Thailand have organized religious activities to observe this occasion. Various religious groups, government agencies, private organizations, and the general public have encourage each other to practice in accordance with Buddha’s teachings such as leading to a happy and peaceful life.

Public Life

Asalha Puja Day is a government holiday in Thailand. Government offices, post offices and banks may be closed during Asalha Puja. Stores and other businesses and organizations may be closed or have reduced opening hours. It is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States but some cities may hold large celebrations for the occasion.

Background

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.

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