THE BUDDHIST CALENDAR
The Buddhist year begins at Vesakha (May) and each full-moon day has its own significance.
Vesakha (May) commemorates the birth, enlightenment and demise of the Buddha.
Jetthamasa (June) commemorates the spreading of Buddhism to countries outside India from the time of the 3rd Council in 246 B.C. Emperor Asoka encouraged its diffusion and recorded the missions led by Sanghamitra and Mahindra that were despatched.
Asalha (July) commemorates the Buddha’s renunciation of his home, his first sermon (the Dhamma-cakkappavattana and the beginning of the 1st Council two months after his decease.
Savana (August) can mark the commencement of the later Vassa retreat (for three months).
Potthapada (September) celebrates a noted incident in the life of the Buddha when he was catered for by animals in the jungle. It can thus serve as reminder of Buddhism’s close connection with and regard for all forms of life.
Assayuja (October) marks the end of the (early) Vassa retreat when new robes and other requisites are offered to the Sangha.
Kattika (November) commemorates the Buddha’s despatch of the first sixty arahants to preach the Dhamma in around; also the demise of Sariputta, one of the Buddha’s two chief disciples.
Maghasira (December) commemorates the arrival in Ceylon of the Theri Sanghamitta, the daughter of Asoka, and the establishment of the Bhikkhuni Saògha on the Island. From thence the nuns spread the Dhamma, notably to China in the 4th century A.D.
Phussa (January) commemorates the Buddha’s first legendary visit to Ceylon. Whatever the historicity or otherwise of this event, the fact remains that this island has consistently taken the lead in Theravada Buddhism as regards scholarship and dissemination of the Dhamma.
Magha (February) commemorates the Buddha’s conferment of the title of chief disciples on Sariputta and Moggallana; also, the enunciation of the Ovadapatimokkha (or essence of the monastic code of conduct, viz., vv. 183-5 of the Dhammapada) to 1,250 arahats.
Phagguna (March) commemorates the Buddha’s return to his home town of Kapilavatthu following his enlightenment. There he converted his father, King Suddhodana (who attained arahatship), his former wife, Yasodhara (who became a bhikkhuni after Suddhodana’s demise and attained arahatship), his son, Rahula, and his cousin, Nanda - both entering the Sangha, with the former also attaining arahatship.
Cittamasa (April) commemorates the role of the Buddha as a peacemaker. In one incident he prevented two rival factions (Sakyas and Kaliyas) from fighting over the use of the river Rohini.
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