Asalha Puja: All you want to know about the Buddhist festival

Asalha Puja also known as Asadha Puja or Dhamma Day is an important Theravada Buddhist festival that falls on the full moon day of the eighth lunar month and celebrates Buddha’s first sermon in Deer Park at Sarnath, 10 km away from Varanasi, after his enlightenment. This year Asalha Puja is being observed on July 13.

After spending seven weeks in the bliss of emancipation post his enlightenment, Buddha was in a fix about passing his knowledge to the humans considering it was too deep and profound for a common person’s understanding. Brahmā Sahāmpati, a deity from the Brahma world, encouraged and convinced Buddha to spread the knowledge of Dhamma to the humans. Buddha then resolved to teach his supreme knowledge to the world.

Asalha Puja is the day when Buddha chose his first disciple Kondanna who was also ordained as the first Buddhist monk. The day commemorates the first sermon delivered by Buddha after his enlightenment to the five ascetics at a forest near Varanasi. Also, during the month of Asalha, Buddha and his wife princess Yasodhara’s son Rahula was born. It was after his birth that Buddha renounced the world and set on the path of spiritual enlightenment.

On this day, Buddhists reflect on the meaning of Four Noble Truths that was part of his first sermon – the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of the suffering. The first teaching of the Buddha, his first structured discourse, is believed to have the essence of all his future teachings.

The day is observed by making donations to the temple and listening to the sermons of Lord Buddha.

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