Khao Pansa

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On the day right after Asalaha Bucha Day another important religious event, Khao Pansa or Vassa or the Rains Retreat, is celebrated. The event starts from the first day of the waning moon of the eighth Thai lunar month (normally the first day after the full moon day in July), and lasts for 3 months. During this rainy time monks will remain in the temples and devote themselves to religious studies, serious contemplation and mediation, and to observe their religious obligations. This year, Khao Pansa begins on July 17th, and ends on October 13th (or called Okpansa).

For Buddhists in general, Khao Pasa means the time to do only good deeds. During Khao Pansa they make merits by bringing food, offerings, and essential supplies to the monks. They also donate beautifully crafted wax candles to the temples as homage for the Buddha. In many places throughout the country the presenting of these special candles (some really tall and magnificently carved and decorated) to the local temples is accompanied by colorful, hight-spirited processions around the towns or cities, reflecting the people’s devout belief in Buddhism and at the same time exhibiting the artistic talent of the local artesans.

On the more spiritual side, this 3- month period is the time to attain the dharma, i.e. to do spiritual training. So the devotees stay away from all causes of disasters or sins by giving up alcoholic drink, smoking, and meat eating. In addition, they spend more of the time training their mind by studying the dharma or Buddha’s teachings, chanting prayers, meditating, and listening to sermons delivered by monks.

Another very common practice observed throughout the country is the entering into monkhood, or the ordination, of large numbers of young men at the age of 20, or over. They are ordained for 3 months, during which time they stay in the temples only. This time-honored tradition is believed to be a religious worship of very great merit. Again like all other joyous Buddhist events or festivals, visitors are welcome to join in the auspicious rituals at all temples in Thailand.