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Magha Puja falls on Saturday, 24 February 2024 (24 กุมภาพันธ์ 2567)
The Magha Puja Day, also known as วันมาฆบูชา (Wan Makha Bucha) is the annual celebration of the Buddhists held on the Full Moon Day of the third lunar month (February) in the Buddhist countries. In Thailand, the ceremony of Magha Puja is performed to emphasize the significance of the Magha month. It was the period in which the Buddha constituted the Main Code of his instructions and which is universally regarded as the heart of Buddhist Teachings.
The historical events preceding this period must be reviewed briefly. The Buddha delivered his First Discourse to the Five Ascetics, namely Anna Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Assaji, who when they heard the Englightened One were ordained and become the Five Noble Disciples. The Buddha then made a retreat at Isapatana in the Deer Park near Benares. There he ordained Yasa, the son of an influential family, who had approached the Buddha and had received instructions on the discourse concerning the Fivefold Principles, namely generosity, morality, happy life, renunciation and the benefit of ordination. He took as his refuge the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Thus he entered into the monastic life. The Order now, increased to sixty in number. The Buddha urged the monks to journey in different directions and places, to disseminate the Law of the Truth. Hence the first Buddhist mission began. The teaching of the Awakened One has since spread to many people in many lands.
The Buddha himself went to preach at Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha State. There, three ascetics regarded as great teachers become Buddhist monks together with their disciples, the reported number being one thousand.
Bimbisara, the King of that State, become a Buddhist, taking the Triple Gem as his spiritual guide and supporting the Buddha’s mission. The King gave as a residence for the Buddha and his Order a quiet and suitable place called Veluvana Vihara (Bamboo Grove). This was the first Buddhist temple. Here many thousands of the citizens become Buddhists. During the period when the Buddha was staying in Veluvana Vihara, a certain incident took place in the Full Moon Day of the third lunar month. The Bhikkhus, about 1,250 in number who had been ordained by the Buddha himself and since then engaged in missionary activities, returned without prior notice to the Great Teacher to question him further about his teachings. Thus took place the Great Assembly of all the Holy Ones at Veluvana Vihara where Buddha delivered the discourse on the Main Code of his teaching which can be summarised thus (in Ovadapatimokkha Gatha):
“Patience, that is to say Forbearance, is considered the Supreme Endeavour. All the Buddha’s speak of Nibbana as the Highest Goal; a Bhikkhu who still does harm and violence to others is not a recluse atall. Do no evil , do whatever is good, purify the mind. This is the Teaching of the Buddhas. Non- abuse, harmlessless, restraint through the Disciplinary Code. This is the Teachings of all the Buddhas.”
Source of information on Magha Puja: From Puja Book by Bhikkhu Cattamalo
Ovadapatimokkha Gatha Chant (short version):
Note: Chanting above is compiled by KH Tan from Penang, Malaysia