The End of Buddhist Lent Day at Wat Greensboro

October 12th marked the end of the three month rains retreat, and last Sunday we celebrated Ok Punsa or the end of Buddhist Lent Day at our local temple Wat Greensboro.

The tradition of Buddhist Lent or the annual three-month Rains Retreat known in Laos and Thailand as Punsa, which dated back to the early Buddhism in ancient India. This is the time where monks spent three months of the annual rainy season in permanent dwellings. This is to avoid unnecessary traveling during the period when crops were still new for fear they might accidentally step on young plants. It was believed that in the ancient time, the Lord Buddha left earth for 3 months to visit his mother up in heaven. He wanted to show his gratitude by chanting for her during this Lent period, and the day of Ork Punsa was the day that he returned to earth. All the people came to greet him, as we carried the tradition to this day by gathering at our local temple to celebrate his returned.

The morning Alms giving is called Tuk Badt Tayvo. It is an old Thai tradition of Alms giving where the Buddhist worshipers would lineup and the monks come by to collect Alms.

The line was lead by a Buddha statue, then followed by monks.

The big money tree or Tun Phapa was organized by Mae Tou Gaisorn.

Food offering to the monks.

The money trees were presented to Wat (temple).

In memory of our passed loved ones, we would pour water called Goud Nom Pra Maid Ta to mother earth so she can tell our passed love ones to come and receive their Boun (merit), and in this case it was for our mom.

Like many religions, our Wat (temple) is built by the people and the name of the donors are everywhere.

The Wat persimmons were harvested and sold for $5 per bag, I bought 2 bags.

It was a beautiful Autumn day and we had a good turnout.

Ginger

I walked around looking for the persimmon on the tree, but I couldn’t find any. They did a good job in harvesting.

Then my sister spotted a few on the tree near the temple.

It looks so good from up there.

Lao Boun Souang Heua (Lao Long Boat Racing)

This is a related post of Ork Punsa and Thot Kathin that I wrote in August 2007.

longboat-race

Boun Souang Heua is a part of Lao tradition for many generations, but most younger generations forget as to why we celebrate the festive event, and it might be that the event of Dragon Boat Racing is internationally recognized, well known to all, and has an interesting myth and legend that surround the history of the event. As for our Boun Souang Heau, we also have our history and reasoning behind the event as well, it is held the day after Ork Punsa.

As we all knew that Buddhism is the official religion of Laos, and many religious events are more or less celebrated nationwide. One of the most notable celebrations is at the end of Lent or the Rains Retreat called Ork Punsa. Punsa is the period of three months during which the Buddhist monks are obliged to stay in the monasteries. The end of the Rains Retreat marks the occasion for the monks throughout the country to receive new robes and other necessities in an annual presentation ceremony called Thot Kathin (merit-making ceremony).

According to one of the monks at our local Wat (temple), in Laos, people would choose which Wat they want to Thot Kathin, the temple then place a Kathin flag as an announcement that the Kathin event is to follow. Assuming if there were no flag in front of Wat, then the villagers would join in to Thot Kathin called Kathin Samakee.

Continue reading

The End of Buddhist Lent Day at my Local Temple

Today was Ork Punsa at our local temple Wat Greensboro, also known as Greensboro Buddhist Center, but tomorrow is the day that marks the conclusion of the Rains retreat. The tradition of Buddhist Lent or the annual three-month Rains Retreat known in Laos and Thailand as Punsa, which dated back to the early Buddhism in ancient India, this is the time where monks spent three months of the annual rainy season in permanent dwellings. This is to avoid unnecessary traveling during the period when crops were still new for fear they might accidentally step on young plants. According to our sermon today, in the ancient time, the Lord Buddha left earth for 3 months to visit his mother up in heaven, he wanted to show his gratitude by chanting for her during this Lent period, and the day of Ork Punsa was the day that he returned to earth, and all the people came to greet him. It is also considered inauspicious to get married or move house during the Lent period, but after Ork Punsa, the calendar is open for weddings.

As I’ve mentioned before, according to our Buddhist belief, Tuk Badt or Alms giving is believed by many that it’s a Boun (merit making) of life, that they’ll live a long and healthy life, which technically speaking, by Tuk Badt, they’re offering foods to the monks to sustain their livelihoods.

Today’s Alms giving is called Tuk Badt Tayvo, its an old Thai tradition of Alms giving where the Buddhist worshipers would lineup and the monks come by to collect Alms, I’m not sure if it’s called the same in Lao. This made me think of the time that we lived in Kamphangphet, Thailand, we would Tuk Badt Tayvo with rice grains, and dried foods that way it would not get spoiled because there were long lines of Buddhist worshipers and hundreds of monks collecting Alms, it’s a beautiful sight to witness and to take part in the ceremony.

Continue reading

Merit Making Traditions During the Buddhist Lent

The tradition of Buddhist Lent or the annual three-month Rains Retreat known in Thai and Lao as Khao Pansa marks the beginning of the three month Buddhist ‘Lent‘. Laypeople provide monasteries with stacks of new robes for Lent monks, since during the Lent period monks are restricted to their monasteries for a prolonged period of spiritual retreat. Ordinary people are also expected to be rather more religious during this time, marriages do not take place and it is inauspicious to move house. This is a good time for young men to temporarily enter the monastery. (source)

As for our local temple, Wat Greensboro or Greensboro Buddhist Center, we’ve Buddhist service and Alms Giving every Sunday during the Rains Retreat. Our Wat (Temple) is looking to expand the Sala Hong Tham (worship hall) and we’ve the opportunity to broadcast part of the sermon on TV, I think it is going to be on NatSat TV.

Some Buddhist worshipers were there to Tum Boun (merit making) for their passed loved ones, the deceased names were written on a white piece of paper, then burned during the ceremony.

Lee Wai to pay respect during the ceremony.

Some pay respect by the big Buddha.

Continue reading