Buddhist Lent Day
Buddhist Lent Day is one of the important days for Buddhists. It is the day that marks the beginning of the three-month retreat for monks of Theravada monastic discipline during which they will stay in a particular place throughout the rainy season. The retreat starts from the 1st waning moon day of the 8th lunar month until the 15th waxing moon day of the 11th lunar month. For this year, Buddhist Lent Day is on July 25, 2021.
This tradition was originated from the Buddha’s time. In those days, monks travelled to various places to spread the teachings of the Buddha. However, in rainy season, there were complaints from villagers that by traveling from place to place, monks passed through their fields thus ruined their crops. Therefore, the Buddha laid down a rule for monks to stay permanently in one place during rainy season. It was also the time for monks to study the teachings as well as sharing experiences with others.
However, there are exceptions for monks who may have some important duties such as,
– Taking care of sick monks or parents.
– Persuading those who want to leave monkhood to change their mind and carry on their monkhood.
– Doing some monastic errand such as renovating the temple.
– Being invited to perform religious ceremonies.
In such cases, monks may travel and stay away from their monasteries. But they are required to return within seven days. If otherwise, they will breach the disciplinary rule.
Buddhists in Thailand give much importance to religious ceremony on Buddhist Lent Day. This includes the Royal institution that performs merit making ceremony at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Keaw), Wat Bowonniwet and also in the palace. The important process of the ceremony is offering candles to pay respect to the Buddha and monks of superior monastic title. There is also almsgiving to 150 monks who have superior and high monastic title as well as monks who graduated in Pali studies.
Buddhist Lent period is a good time for parents to have their children ordain and study Dhamma for them to retain and spread the Buddha’s teachings.
On this day, Buddhists usually make merit by giving alms, offering rain-bathing cloth together with lamps, candles and necessities to monks. Unfortunately, during this Covid-19 outbreak, there is limitation to perform religious rite. Still, we can make donation, observe five or eight precepts and practice meditation to purify our minds. In this situation, cooperation and support given to others without expecting anything in return are good deeds. It is an accumulation of the first virtue of the Ten Perfections (parami); that is giving. Other than these, we can also cultivate other virtues such as morality, renunciation, wisdom, effort, endurance, truthfulness, determination, loving-kindness, and equanimity.
On this important day, we would like to invite you, all Buddhists to make a resolution to change yourselves, to accumulate virtuous perfections, to refrain from intoxicant, to refrain from sinful acts and all causes of ruin. The purpose is to develop yourselves to be the ones who have no more heedlessness.
25 July 2021
Knowing Buddha Organization
Translation: Siriporn Kuprasertsin,Wisuwat Sutthakorn
Source: 84000, Wikipedia