Bangladesh Buddhist Association

Asalhiya Punnama

The Asalhiya Punnama or full moon day of the month of Asalha (June-July) is sacred for Prince Siddhartha’s conception in his mother’s womb, and his great renunciation and the beginning of the Vassa-Vasa (Lent) of three-month rainy season by the Bhikkhus (monks) at every monastery. During this period they live in retirement, as was customary with all ascetics in India during the Buddha’s time, and observe the Patimokkha (disciplinary code). This is comparable to 40 week-days Lent-term for the Christians during which period they are devoted to fasting and penitence in commemoration of Chist in the wilderness and the month of Ramadan of Muslims. Another significant event of this full moon day is the delivery of the first sermon by the Buddha known as the Dhammachakkapavattana or the wheel of truth or righteousness to the five monks that attended on him at Isipatana (modern Saranath) near Benaras. The ceremonial and the ritualistic aspects of Aslhiya Punnama are similar to the Vesakhiya Punnama, Khuddam or Madhu (honey) Punnama, i.e., full moon day of Potthapada (August-September).