Sunday, 5 August 2012

Waso - Rains Retreat

Waso is a period when Theravada Buddhist Monks and Nuns observe a three month “Rains Retreat”. During this time they stay in the same monastery each night and avoid travelling. The Monks and Nuns will also increase the intensity of their meditation practices.

During the Rains Retreat many lay Buddhists spend an increased amount of time contemplating the Dhamma and adhering to more ascetic practices, like longer meditation sessions.

The Rains Retreat is called Waso in Burmese and Vassa in Thai. Both words come from the Pali word “vasso” meaning rain. Some people refer to Waso as “Buddhist Lent”. The timing of Waso is based on the lunar calendar, and also coincides with the wet season in South East Asia. While Sydney may not have a wet season Waso is still observed.

The Panditarama Sydney Meditation Centre (PSMC) celebrates the start of Waso with a Robe Offering Ceremony. The day starts with a luncheon offered by the lay community. Blessings are then offered by the Monks and they lead the lay people in chanting in Pali. A Dhamma talk is also given (a discourse from the teachings of the Buddha) and the lay people renew their will to adhere to the Five Precepts.

New robes and other essentials (like rice) are offered to the Monks, in a ceremony that is similar to alms giving in SE Asia.

Knows Pali better then me!
Well over 200 people attended the event this year. There were also Monks who visited from other Burmese temples located at Campsie, Canley Vale,  St Marys and Yennora. The young children who have been attending weekly classes at the centre did some of the chanting on their own, led by one of the Monks, to show the adults how they are progressing. I must admit the children have a much better grasp of Pali than what I do.

The PSMC will also hold some group meditations and a retreat for lay people over the coming months. Visit their website for more information here.

Dhamma Talk
Wonderful lunch offered to all

Thanks to Min Thein for the photos.

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