The Full Moon Day of Waso marks and commemorates the beginning of the Buddhist Lent (Vassa) and the anniversary of Buddha’s first sermon on the Four Noble Truths.
This year’s Waso Full Moon Day fell on July 11th. It is an important date in Myanmar’s calendar. It is also the day when the Buddha was conceived and the day when adult Buddha left the Kingdom in search for enlightenment .
The day sees robe offering ceremonies related to shinbyu; the Burmese term for a novitiate ceremony (pabbajja) in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism, referring to the celebrations marking the sāmaṇera ordination of a boy under the age of 20.
There are many customs and traditions starting from this day and continuing exactly for three months until the Thadingyunt Full Moon Day in October, which is a Light Festival.
It is an occasion when people offer food, robes, medicines, and donate money to shelter to the monks and monasteries as the monks (Sangha) enter into a retreat period for meditation, reflection, honoring of Buddha's teachings through practice. During this period monks avoid travel.
Bond of generations
On full moon day, one rarely sees such harmony between the elderly and the young. It is a time for coming together as the older generation make preparations for fasting and items of offerings, whilst the younger generation is busy with organizing music troupes and dances. It is on the occasion of the offering and donations ceremony that we see total unity and harmony between different generations.
The time for flowers
Waso is also a season of flowers. With the sound of music from dance troops, young man and women will roam the woodlands to pick flowers. The flowers are gathered in joy and love and is to be offered to the images of the Buddha.
Prohibitions during the lent
In Myanmar, it is not advisable to get married during the lent period. Actually, this is an old taboo originating from social and economic conditions of the by-gone days, when communication was difficult during the rainy season; the people were busy in the fields; therefore it was more convenient to celebrate weddings only after the lent season. Moving houses are avoided too.
There are also ovation and ordination ceremonies all over the country. It is a period of reflection, meditation, contemplation and meritorious deeds. Ordinary folk is also expected to adopt a more spiritual way of life during this period.
(According to www.mekongtourism.org and yangonlife.com.mm)
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