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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Thailand, Lesson 12 – End of Buddhist Lent Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Thailand Series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Thai holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 12, End of Buddhist Lent day. In Thai, it’s called วันออกพรรษา (wan àawk phan-săa).
In this lesson we’re going to talk about the end of Lent, which falls on the 15th day of the waxing moon in the 11th month of every year. It marks the end of the term of discipline that requires monks to stay in one place for a period of three months. There are many activities that monks and Buddhists must carry out on this day.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What are the benefits for monks who stay in the temple for the whole of the Lent term?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
At the end of Lent, Buddhist monks will attend a traditional ceremony called Pavarana. This is an opportunity for monks to atone for an offense they may have committed during the Lent term. Some monks may have committed a wrongdoing which requires reparation. By having other monks criticize and remind them of the wrongdoing, they will become better aware of their mistakes, or ความผิดพลาด (khwaam phìt phlâat). Not only can older monks admonish younger monks, younger monks can also point out wrongdoings by the older monks as well. Although the older monks are older, they are not arrogant, nor assume that everything they do is necessarily correct. They’re aware that, no matter whether during Lent or not, a good monk, or พระสงฆ์ (phrá-sŏng), should always behave well and follow the Buddha’s teaching.
There’s a tradition at the end of Lent called a “Thevo food offering event.” The event is slightly different from the common food offering to monks, in that the temples will move the Buddha statue originally placed in the shrine onto a cart, or รถเข็น (rót khĕn), and put a large bowl in front of the statue. People will slowly pull the cart in front of the monks and novices who hold their bowls and follow after the cart. Buddhists will prepare both savory foods and sweet desserts along the way where the Buddha statue, or พระพุทธรูป (phrá phút-thá-rûup) will pass through. People offer the food to the Buddha statue and the monks when they arrive.
Approximately one month after the end of Lent, around the time when food is most abundant, a sermon is held about the story of the last great incarnation of the Buddha, which consists of thirteen episodes. On the morning of this day, people offer food to all monks in the temple. Afterwards, the monks begin the sermon from the first episode. It usually takes place from morning until night to finish the whole thirteen episodes. The purpose of this sermon is to teach people about sins and virtues, giving, observing the precepts, and meditation.
As a lot of new monks become ordained on the first day of Lent, some people may think all of these newly ordained monks will leave the monkhood on the same day. Actually, this isn’t the case. In fact, monks will gradually leave the monkhood as it suits them. Because Thai people believe in luck, or ความเป็นสิริมงคล (khwaam bpen-sì-rí-mong-khon), particularly that a person will have a prosperous life if he chooses the right day, they ask older monks or someone with knowledge on finding the auspicious time to find an appropriate date for him to leave monkhood. Therefore, the time will differ for each person, according to the day they were born.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What are the benefits for monks who stay in the temple for the whole of the Lent term?
Monks who stay in the temple for the whole three months during the Lent period will be exempted from some regulations. For example, they can leave the temple without informing the abbot, or they can leave the temple without bringing their whole set of robes. This makes it more convenient for monks to leave the temple to disseminate Buddhism.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
What are the common practices during the religious days in your culture?
Leave us a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!