Asalha Puja Date in the current year: July 19, 2016

Asalha Puja Asalha Puja (also spelled Asanha Bucha) is one of the most important festivals in Theravada Buddhism. It is celebrated on the full moon of the eight lunar month, which typically falls in July. Asalha Puja is a public holiday in Thailand.

Asalha Puja is also referred to as Dharma Day because it commemorates the first sermon of Buddha, which is believed to set into motion the wheel of Dharma. After his enlightenment, Gautama Buddha gathered his five former associates and taught them the Four Noble Truths that expresses the essence of Buddhism.

The Four Noble Truths state the following. All phenomenal existence is unsatisfactory (the principle of dukkha, which is usually translated as suffering or anxiety). People crave and cling to all temporary states and things, which causes more anxiety. That is why they are continuously reborn. If they stop craving, they can reach nirvana, a state beyond suffering, and stop being reborn. Nirvana can be reached by following the Noble Eightfold Path.

Theravada practitioners celebrate Asalha Puja with listening to sermons and bringing offerings to temples. The following day is also celebrated as a holiday because it is the first day of Vassa. Vassa is often called a Buddhist Lent, but it is in fact a three-month retreat dedicated to medication, reflection, and prayer.

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