Asalha Bucha Day

Thailand
13 July 2022

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Asalha Bucha Day

Asalha Bucha Day (also Asalha Puja or Dharma Day) is a Buddhist festival that commemorates Buddha’s first sermon and the founding of the Buddha’s four noble truths after his enlightenment. This Buddhist festival is observed on the full moon of the eighth lunar month, which usually falls in the month of July. This year, Asalha Bucha Day falls on July 13th, 2022.

Meaning of Asalha Bucha

Silhouette of Buddha statue at sunset
Source: Here Asia / Shutterstock.com

Asalha Bucha consists of two words: Asalha (eighth lunar month) and Bucha (worship). Therefore, Asalha Bucha means worshiping on the full moon day of the eighth lunar month or worshiping to remember important events on the full moon day of the eighth lunar month.

The first teachings of Buddha

Carved wooden Buddha hands holding The Wheel of Dhamma
Source: nuttaphol Thammatorn / Shutterstock.com

Asalha Bucha is one of the most important festivals to Theravada Buddhists because it celebrates Buddha’s first sermon preached to five ascetics at the Deer Park of Sarnath (Varanasi) near Benares city, India over 2,500 years ago. 

The teachings of Buddha’s first sermon are known as the Wheel of Dharma (Dharmacakkappavattana Sutta), consisting of the “Four Noble Truths”: 

  • Dukkha: suffering is innate to existence
  • Samudaya: origin of suffering is attachment
  • Nirodha: cessation of suffering comes from letting go of attachment
  • Magga: “The Noble Eightfold Path” is the way to the cessation of attachment and suffering

These teachings are considered the foundation of all Buddhist philosophy. 

Asalha Bucha in Thailand

Wian tian or a circumabulation procession around the ordination hall in the evening of Asalha Bucha Day
Source: narai chal / Shutterstock.com

As with most religious holidays in Thailand, many Thais celebrate this festival by participating in a wian tian or a candlelit circumambulation procession at temples. People will walk three times around the ordination hall in a clockwise fashion on the evening of Asalha Bucha. Other celebrations include reciting the eight precepts of the Noble Eightfold Path, leading meditations, chanting in Sanskrit (the language of Buddhist scripture), giving sermons, and giving alms to monks. 

The day after Asalha Bucha is observed as Khao Phansa, which marks the start of the three-month Phansa (or Vassa) period also referred to as Buddhist Lent.