The rains had arrived in our land. The lakes and the ponds are full and the mighty Ayeyarwady River rushes down towards the delta with renewed force. The farmers are wholly engaged in their paddy fields, heedless of the lashing torrents that come down from the dark rain clouds above. Thunder booms and lightnings flashe. It is the wettest time of the year in Myanmar.
But the Myanmar month of Waso(corresponding to the Christian calender month of July) is one of the holiest of all in the Myanmar Buddhist calender.
Four Great Happenings of Lord Gautama Buddha are said to have occurred during the Fullmoon Day of Waso, namely: သေႏၶ၊ေတာ ထြက္၊ဓမၼစက္၊တန္ ခိုး ျပာဋိဟာ
(1) Lord Buddha was conceived at midnight on this Fullmoon Day inside the womb of Queen Thiri Maha Devi, of Kappilavatsu.(သေႏၶ)
(2)Prince Siddartha saw the Four Great Omens, namely an old person, infirm person, a dead body and a Yahan(monk). He immediately realized that he should renounced all his worldly attachments and become a monk if He is to escape from this endless circle of getting old, getting infirm and finally death, of the Wheel of Karma, the cycle of Life and Rebirths.The only escape is to become a monk and find Salvation in attaining Nirvana.Thus on this Fullmoon Day of Waso He renounced all his worldly attachments to seek Nirvana(၊ေတာ ထြက္)
(3)Lord Gautama Buddha gave his First Sermon, The Dhamma Setkya Sermon, to the five disciples on the evening of this Fullmoon Day.(ဓမၼစက္၊)
(4)He showed his omniscient powers to a group of heretics on this Fullmoon Day.(တန္ ခိုး ျပာဋိဟာ)
And the Fullmoon Day of Waso also marks the beginning of the Buddhist Lent, lasting until the rains cease in Thadingyut(October). According to the customs and the strict rules if the monkhood, the monks are confined to their monasteries during this period.They may not leave their monasteries for overnight visits. Lord Buddha had imposed this restriction to prevent the monks disturbing the works of the farmers during this busy period and to spare unnecessary damage to the crops in the paddy fields.
The Waso Holy Robes Offering Ceremony at Sydney
However, the monks are still needed to go about their daily rounds for alms around villages near their monasteries during this period. They need to do this ritual whether it be sunny or in pouring rains. And it became evident that they would need change of robes that had become wet or soiled. Lay persons are permitted to offer to the monks Waso Thingan (Waso Holy Robes) to the monks in order that they may have dry robes to change into after coming back from their daily alms rounds. And this offering of Holy Robes to the monks on the Fullmoon Day of Waso had become established as the Waso Holy Robes Offering Ceremony. Devotees would gather at the monasteries and observe the 10 Holy Commandments, listen to the sermons, offer the new robes to the monks and generally begin observation of the Buddhist Lent.
Furthermore, devotees also observe the Sabbath during this period. Many would make it a point to observe the Sabbath on the Fullmoon day, Darkmoon day and the 8th day of the waxing and waning moons as they are regarded as specially auspicious. Merit making ceremonies and offering of food to the monks would also be held.
A devotee offers the Holy Robes to the monk
This auspicious commemoration of the Waso Fullmoon Day is not only observed in Myanmar but by all Buddhists, wherever they may be.
(These Waso Holy Robs Offering Ceremonies can be observed at almost all pagodas and monasteries all over Myanmar)