Asanha Bucha day is a Theravada Buddhist festival which typically takes place on the full moon in July. Also known as Dhamma Day, this day is one of Theravada Buddhism’s most important as it celebrates the Buddha’s first sermon.
This was a very important sermon on many levels, one of which was because this was when he laid out the doctrine of dharma for his followers. It was on this day over 2,500 years ago at Benares in India – a date which changes annually according to the waxing and waning of the moon – that he is believed to have set in motion the wheels of dharma, encapsulating the four noble truths as: suffering (dukkha); craving (tanha); a state beyond suffering and craving (nibbana); and the eightfold path, which leads towards the cessation of suffering and the arrival at nirvana.
It was also after one of the followers recited his understanding of this doctrine that the first sangha was received as a disciple – and the Buddhist sangha (monks) was born.
Buddhists observe the day by taking offerings to temples, listening to sermons and making merit. Asanha Bucha Day is followed by Khao Pansa day, which marks the first day of Buddhist lent, as many monks retreat into meditation and contemplation for the monsoon season.
For non-Buddhists, these two days this year fall on Saturday 4th July. This means that a public holiday in lieu of the religious day is set for Monday 6th July. And as Sunday 5th July is Khao Phansa Day, there is a holiday in lieu on Tuesday 7th July. This means…long weekend folks!
It also means alcohol is not to be bought or sold on either the 4th or 5th of July.