|Shwedagon Pagoda will host its annual Waso full moon festival this Thursday.
SHWEDAGON Pagoda will hold its annual Waso full moon festival this Thursday to mark the start of the Buddhist Lent period, said U Maung Maung Tint, an official from the pagoda’s board of trustees.
“We will hold a Waso festival on the full moon day on July 17 by offering Waso robes and alms food to monks, and we invite pilgrims to take part in the ceremony,” he said.
Religious teams will be in charge of selling alms food to pilgrims for offering to the pagoda, he said.
“The price of the food won’t be fixed. This is so that poor pilgrims, especially those from rural areas, will be able to perform the good deed of buying alms food to offer to the pagoda,” he said.
U Maung Maung Tint said that throughout the three-month Lenten period, the board of the trustees will host doctrine ceremonies on bimonthly fasting days at which a venerable monk will recite the Eight Buddhist Precepts and deliver a sermon.
“This will inspire people who are determined to adhere to the Eight Precepts during the Lenten period,” he said.
The Eight Precepts are the precepts for Buddhist laymen and women who wish to practice a bit more strictly than the usual Five Precepts for Buddhists.
The Five Precepts are commitments to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication.
The three additions for the Eight Precepts are to abstain from eating at the wrong time (eating once a day, after sunrise but before noon, is permitted); to abstain from singing, dancing, playing music, attending entertainment perfor-mances, wearing perfume, and using cosmetics and garlands; and to abstain from luxurious places for sitting or sleeping.
U Maung Maung Tint said the trustees will also give seminars on Buddhist birth stories and history at noon on every full moon day during Lent.
“It is beneficial for children to come with their grandparents. Every Buddhist, young or old, should learn about Buddhist literature, which teaches ethics and moral lessons,” he said.
U Tun Shwe, an official from the board’s financial department who will give talks on Buddhism during Lent, agreed that it was important for devotees to learn the teachings of the Buddha.
“For example, all Buddhists are familiar with the Five Precepts but most people don’t know the details of the teachings behind the precepts. This is especially important to know during Lent when Buddhists are determined to do good deeds,” he said.
The full moon day of Waso is the anniversary of the day that embryo-Buddha was conceived, the day the Buddha-to-be (Prince Siddhartha) abandoned his palace and entered the forest to seek enlightenment, and the day the Buddha delivered his first sermon at Migadhaya, or Deer Park.
Waso also marks the beginning of the three-month Buddhist Lent period, during which monks are not allowed to stay overnight outside of their monasteries but instead contemplate Buddhist scriptures and meditate.
Laypeople provide monks with robes at the beginning of Lent because monks need spare clothing during rainy season when wet robes are difficult to dry.