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Celebrate in June! Holidays
Come celebrate with us in each issue as we explore the many holidays celebrated in Asian countries each month!
 
Folklore of World HolidaysFolklore of World Holidays
by Margaret Read McDonald, Editor. Gale Research Inc., 1992
 
Tsu-yu Rainy Season Painting Moon 8, Waning Day - Moon 11, Full Moon (June/July to September/October)
Vossa/Khao Vatsa, Waso

Three-month period of religious retreat for Buddhist monks and lay novitiates, also a Lenten season of devotions, sermons and daily temple visits. Abstinence from liquors and frivolous delights is required of the religious. Coincides with the rainy season.

On this day, Prince Siddhartha was conceived, renounced his life of luxury, and preached his First Sermon, the Dhammacakka Sutra.

Burma/Myanmar
Waso
Full Moon Day of Waso 

Gautama Buddha, after realising the Four Noble Truths in the year 103, preached the First Sermon, the Dhammacakka Sutra, to the five mendicants in the Migadawon forest near Benares on Wazo Full Moon Day. The message of the sermon is that suffering takes root in life due to attachment and this attachment can be cut off by following the Eightfold Path of the Middle Way.

On this day, Gautama Buddha departed for Tavatimsa, where in repaying the debt of gratitude owed to the Santussita nat who was once his mother, he preached the Abhidhamma to the nat and brahma until Full Moon Day of Thandingyut. From Wazo Full Moon Day until Thandingyut Full Moon Day, the monks retreat into their monasteries. The people revere the Buddha, offer Wazo flowers and Wazo robes, observe the precepts and meditate in keeping with tradition.

Source:   Embassy of the Union of Myanmar.

Cambodia
Vossa

The ceremony of the tien vossa (candle of the vossa) takes place at difference times of the day in various monasteries. The idea is that this candle should remain lit throughout the three-month period of the Vossa. The villagers also celebrate with processions and presents to the Buddist monks. The traditional present at the entry into the Vossa is a piece of yellow fabric called a sadok. The monk is to wear this when washing himself. These are bright yellow and folded in picturesesque shapes by the villagers, some resembling lotus flowers, others resembling the uneven surface of a pineapple. (By the end of the rainy season, much of the color has usually faded from these garments.)

Each monk also receives a hamper with ink, paper, medicine and several bottles of aerated water. The monks enter the temple and sit in six rows facing the tien vossa. The villagers sit in a horseshoe shape, venerating the monks and praying earnestly that their actions will bring great merit. In return, the monks face the people and pray aloud.

Source:   Mistapim in Cambodia by Christopher Pim. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1960, pp. 86, 88-89.

Laos
Khao Vatsa

Khao Vatsa, the beginning of a period of sangha retreat in the eighth Laotian month (the full moon of July), coincides with the height of the rainy season. During Khao Vatsa, processions are held by the clergy and the laity. There is little rejoicing since the bonzes, so important in the life of the village, are preparing to go into retreat for three months.

Source:   Laos: A Country Study by Donald P. Whitaker et al. Foreign Area Studies. Washington, D.C.: The American University, 1971, p. 122.

Thailand
Waso

The three and a half month period of Buddhist Lent ordinarily opens about the middle of June, when the moon begins to wane. The most important days are Khao Wasa and Ok-Barnsa, respectively the first and last days of the lenten period. Many religious observances are celebrated by the monks, but among the laity only older villagers attend special ceremonies. On the morning of these days, villagers bring gifts of food, money, incense, and flowers to the wat. After presenting the food to the monks, the villagers retire to the temple.

Source:   Village Life in Modern Thailand by John E. de Young. Berkeley, University of California, 1955, p. 137.

Before the lenten days begin, the people cast a large candle of molten beeswax. Usually lit in the wat, the candle, called the lenten candle, is kept burning continuously throughout the three months of the lenten period.

Source:   Life and Ritual in Old Siam by Phya Anuman Rajadhon. New Haven: HRAF Press, 1961, p. 95.

Moon 6, Day 6
On this Buddhist day the people tend to the monastic library collections. In tropical climates, books are particularly susceptible to mold and vermin.
 
China

The "Double Sixth" is a purely Buddhist observation known as Airing the Classics, commemorating a disaster which overtook the scriptures on their journey from India. The boat carrying the pilgrims upset at a river crossing, and the books had to be spread out to dry after their immersion.

Thus in all monasteries, the library books are taken from their shelves and examined to prevent mold and the ravages of insects. In the days of the Empire, this day was also chosen for going through the Imperial archives. Women also washed their hair and gave baths to their pets on this day.

Source:   Chinese Creeds and Customs by V. R. Burkhardt. Hong Kong: South China Morning Post, 1982, p. 39.

Moon 6, Day 15
Yoondoonal (Shampoo Day)

On this day all should go to the countryside to bathe and wash their hair in the cool streams and waterfalls.

Korea
Cold Water Shampoo Day

The fifteenth day of the sixth moon is Yoondoonal or Shampoo Day. Villagers visit streams and waterfalls to spend the day bathing in the cool water and shampooing their hair. It is said that whoever cools his head and body on this day will not suffer from heat of fever during the coming year.

Since the Silla Dynasty, scholars have gone on Yoondoonal outings to picnic, drink wine, and compose poems.

Macaroni and wheat flour cakes are also made on this day. They are left as offerings at family shrines along with melons and other fruits of the season.

Source:   Folk Customs and Family Life by Tai Hung Ha. Seoul, Korea: Yonsei, 1963, p. 77.

Moon 6, Day 24
Birthday of the Lotus

Buddha envisioned man as rising like the lotus from the mud to blossom at the lake's surface. Buddha himself appears seated on a lotus throne. The lotus is one of the Eight Treasures depicted on the sole of the Buddha's foot. This day honors the lotus.

China

In Peking, the birthday of flowers is celebrated on the twelfth, or in some provinces, on the fifteenth of the second moon. The Lotus, having a special sanctity for Buddhists, enjoys an anniversary of its own on the 24th of the Sixth Moon when the summer rains are expected to break in the north. Its blooming in the ponds and moats around Peking is a sign that the prayers to the Dragon Prince have born fruit and that the moisture necessary for an abundant harvest has been showered on the parched earth. Viewing the lotus is to the inhabitants of the capital what the cherry blossom viewing is to the Japanese, and crowds invade the lakes of the Winter Palace to enjoy the pink blossom through which lanes are cut to facilitate the passage of rowing boats.

Source:   Chinese Creeds and Customs by V. R. Burkhardt. Hong Kong: South China Morning Post, 1982, p. 40.

Dragon Boat Festivals


Source:   The Folklore of World Holidays, by Margaret Read MacDonald (Editor), is currently not available from our online bookstore. The publisher is out of stock; however, check your local library for a copy. If you would like to purchase this title, we recommend that you occasionally check to see if it has been reprinted.
 
An updated version of this book is available. Folklore of World Holidays
Robert Griffin (Editor), Ann H. Shurgin (Editor) / Hardcover / Published 1998
 

TSU-YU – rainy season – painting by Akira Kajiura. The rainy season, called TSU-YU or BAI-U, in Japan. To view Akira's gallery, or for further information, please click on the banner below.
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