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Asalha Day Festival in India

One of the most important festivals of the Thervada Buddhists, the Asalha Puja Day or the Dhamma Day celebrates the first teaching of the Buddha.

Elaborating on this, the Buddha gained enlightenment on the full moon of Vesakha - the sixth month. After this, He was not too keen to teach, but on the insistence of His friends who had spent several years journeying the Gangetic plains with Him, He decided to go to Benaras. From Gaya, the distance to Beneras where His friends were staying was around 150 miles and it took Him around two months to reach there. On reaching Beneras, He delivered His first discourse which consisted of the essence, of the all future teachings. At the conclusion of His discourse, one of His five friends Kondañña, exclaimed his understanding of the Truths just preached and urged the Buddha to accept him as a disciple. This was followed by an extremely simple ordination process that gave birth to the order of monks.

The preaching delivered by the Buddha is quiet often referred to as "setting into motion the wheel of dhamma," It comprises the four noble truths - life means suffering (dukka); origin of suffering is attachment(tanha); cessation of suffering is attainable and finally, the way to cessation is via the eightfold path. Throughout the world, whatever school of thought a Buddhist might belong to, the central doctrine of Buddhism for him still remains the four noble truths.

The festival is celebrated on the full moon day of the 8th lunar month, Asalha, of the old Indian calendar. Asalha is also the month of the starting of the monsoon. During this period the Buddha and His monks and nuns would hold their wanderings. Even today, monasteries keep a three month long 'rains retreat' which commences on the Dhamma day and the concludes on Pavarana. For all those who desire to join the order but just cannot renounce their present life, ordination as short term monks is also possible in this period.

Yet another significance of the Asalha is that it was during this month that the Buddha's son Rahula was born. It was after this that Buddha gave up all His royal worldly pleasures to attain spiritual enlightenment and the truth of life.

Festival Dates
Date - 30th June
Date - 18th July


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