Uposatha (Pali, Sanskrit: Upavasatha, Thai: Phra Wan) is a Buddhist holiday, a day of contemplation, the renewal of Dhamma practice.
The Uposatha-day occupies a significant place in Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, the Uposatha days of little significance.
The term comes from the Rig Veda Uposatha. In the ancient verses of the Upavasatha was mentioned, a day of preparation for the so-called Soma-ritual, which was usually done by fasting. These preparations have been committed in the days of the crescent, the full and new moon.
Even non-Vedic sects already used in pre-Buddhist time these days to the meeting and retreat to announce their Dharma. On a proposal by the Magadha King Seniya Bimbisara the Buddha took this practice and ordered that his disciples gathered in those days.
The calendar of the Uposatha-day is calculated by a complex traditional formula, which is determined by the lunar calendar (see: Thai lunar calendar). The result is that the calculated time is not necessarily with the current astronomical constellations.
The different denominations within the Theravada Buddhism (see, for example Thammayut Nikaya) also have slightly different calculation formulas. Roughly, the Uposatha-day fall on the full moon, the moon and the two half-moon days, which are exactly in between. The distance between the Uposatha-days can be five, six or seven days.
The Uposathas on the last day of the fortnight, ie on the new moon or full moon days are more important than the intermediate. For in these days, the monks hold off the addition Patimokkha celebration, that is, they recite the 227 training rules as set by the Buddha.
The lay-days notice to the Uposatha the eight precepts (see Five Silas). If possible, use the lay these days to visit their local monastery, there to listen to Dhamma talks by monks and meditation with like-minded until late into the night.
In the countries of the Theravada (Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka) was formerly the Uposatha Day a public holiday. But with the increasing Westernization the western weekend and has so won the non-working Sunday now a higher priority.
While you're in the Theravada monasteries in western countries partially begun to lay the Uposatha-day on a weekend so that more lay people can participate, but the Patimokkha is still recited at the correct day.
Although there are almost only older women who meet at Uposatha in the monastery, this day has still a great influence on religious life in rural areas of the Theravada countries.
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