Beginning of Vassa (Buddhist Lent) Date in the current year: July 20, 2016

Beginning of Vassa (Buddhist Lent) Vassa, also referred to as Buddhist Lent or Rains Retreat, is the three-month annual retreat observed by the practitioners of Theravada Buddhism. The first day of Vassa is a public holiday in Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

Although Vassa is often called Buddhist Lent, a spiritual retreat is not the same thing as a lent. A retreat is a time for prayer, reflection, or meditation, usually spent at a remote location. It can either be a community experience or a time of solitude. Retreats are often held in silence, but they might involve conversation as well. Advanced practitioners can undertake retreats in darkness.

Vassa is the rainy season retreat lasting for thee lunar months. It usually starts in July and ends in October in the Gregorian calendar. Vassa begins on the day following the full moon of the eighth lunar month. It is preceded by Asalha Puja, one of the most important holidays in Theravada Buddhism.

Buddhist monks and nuns traditionally spend Vassa inside temple grounds and monasteries, dedicating the period to mediation. Common people usually cannot afford to dedicate three months to meditation as they have to work, but they observe Vassa by abstaining from smoking, alcohol, meat or adopting other ascetic practices.

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Religious Holidays


Laos, Myanmar, Thailand


Vassa, Buddhist Lent, Rains Retreat, religious holiday, public holiday, Theravada Buddhism