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Asalaha Bucha Day is considered one of the sacred days in Buddhism as it commemorates the coming of the Triple Gems, namely the Lord Buddha, the Dhamma or his teachings and the Sangha or the his disciples. The day falls on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eighth lunar month, preceding the Buddhist Lent or “Khao Phansa”, which starts on the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month.
The holy day marks an anniversary of the day on which Lord Buddha delivered the First Sermon to his first five disciples so-called “Pancavaggi”, who lived in a forest named “Issipatanamarukatayawan” or the Deer Park in Baranasi, India, over 2,500 years ago.
The Lord Buddha, the founder of the great religious philosophy of Buddhism, lived in North India over 2,500 years ago and was known as Siddhattha Gotama, which means descendant of Gotama whose aims are achieved. His father, King Suddhodana, ruled over the land of the Sakyans at Kapilavatthu on the Nepalese frontier. His mother was Mahamaya, a princess of the Koliyas.
Prince Siddhattha at that time made his way to a place near Bodhi Gaya in India, where he found a suitable site for meditation, called “space-like concentration on the Dharmakaya” in which he focused single-pointedly on the ultimate nature of all phenomena. After training in this meditation for 6 years, the prince realized that he was very close to full enlightenment, and so he walked to Bodhi Gaya where, on the full moon day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar, he seated himself beneath the Bodhi Tree in the meditation posture until he had attained perfect enlightenment.
Upon the enlightenment on the full moon day of the sixth lunar month (Visakha), the Lord Buddha spent seven weeks nearby the Bodhi Tree. Afterwards, he decided to disseminate the Dhamma or his teachings to others, even though there were difficulties for ordinary people to understand.
On the day before the full moon day of the eight lunar month, the Asalaha Bucha, when the Lord Buddha gave the five ascetics his first sermon called "Dhamma-cakkappavattana Sutta" or the Discourse on Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion until the head of the Five, named "Kondanna" achieved "The Eye of Dhamma" and asked for ordination and later became the first monk in Buddhism. The full moon day of the eighth lunar month became the day that honors the Sangha, or the community of the monks.
All Buddhist followers celebrate the auspicious Asalaha Bucha Day all over the country by performing a wide variety of Buddhist activities such as attending the candle light procession around the Uposatha Hall, performing merit-making ceremonies and committing themselves to “Sila” (the Five Precepts), offering food and alms to monks and listening to Dhamma preaching to purify their minds.