Festivals and Holy Days
Magha Puja (February) -- "Sangha Day":
This commemorates the spontaneous assembly of 1,250 arahants in the Buddha's presence. One thousand of the gathered monks had previously achieved Awakening upon hearing the Buddha's delivery of the Fire Sermon; the remaining 250 were followers of the elder monks Ven. Moggallana and Ven. Sariputta. To mark this auspicious gathering, the Buddha delivered the Ovada-Patimokkha Gatha, or Patimokkha Exhortation -- a summary of Dhamma.
Songkran (April) - Thai New Year's Festival (Water Festival)
Visakha Puja (Vesak) (May) -- "Buddha Day"
This day commemorates three events in the Buddha's life that each took place on this full-moon day: his birth, Awakening, and final Unbinding (parinibbana).
Asalha Puja (July) -- "Dhamma Day"
This commemorates the Buddha's first discourse, which he gave to the group of five monks with whom he had practiced in the forest for many years. Upon hearing this discourse, one of the monks -- Ven. Konda˝˝a -- gained his first glimpse of Nibbana, thus giving birth to the Noble Sangha. The annual Rains retreat (vassa) begins the following day.
Pavarana - (September/October)
This commemoration marks the end of the three month 'Rains Retreat' which began on the full moon of Asalha Puja. Literally 'pavarana' means 'inviting admonition' and at this time lay people frequently are challenged to begin special
or disciplined meditations as well as release unprofitable habits.
"The Buddha had spent the three months of the seventh rains period after his enlightenment in the Tavatimsa heaven giving instruction to his mother, Mayadevaputta, and to the other assembled gods. This instruction is thought by some to have resulted in the Abhidhamma teachings. It was on Pavarana day that he decended from this heaven down a jewelled stairway back to earth."
Kathina and Loi Kratong - (October/November)
Kathina is a Festival that marks the end of the monastic Rains Retreat (Vassa) and is a time of offerings, especially that of robes and requisites, to the monks and the Temple.
The monks chant in Pali:
"Those who are wise, generous and free from selfishness give at the appropriate times. Then what is given to those who are worthy and morally sound is an offering of great purity and substance. Those who likewise show appreciation or perform acts of service make no lesser offering and they also share in this merit. Thus in giving, the heart is unbounded, what is given is of great fruit and those meritorious deeds bring about good fortune in the life to come."
Loi Kratong is a celebration of the Earth and her waterways. Lotus boats carrying candles, flowers, and incense, are floated on a journey down the stream in the Temple march forest. Thoughts of loving-kindness and thankfulness are passengers on board through meditation.