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Annual Main Buddhist Festival Days


The Four Buddha Days

There are four major Special Buddha days Tibetan Buddhist Festival Day or "Festivals" (düchen) in a year which relate to the life of Buddha Shakyamuni. During these days, it is said that the effects of positive or negative actions are multiplied 100 million times, so practice is strongly advised.
See the Program Calendar for the western dates.

Day of Miracles - Chotrul Düchen
During the first two weeks after the new year (Losar in Tibetan), it is celebrated that the Buddha displayed a miracle each day to increase the merit and devotion of future disciples. During these days, the Gelugpa Mönlam Chenmo (great prayer festival) is celebrated and extra practice is highly advised. The 15th of the 1st month is the major festival, the "Day of Miracles". Lama Zopa Rinpoche gives special advice for practice during this period at this special page.

Buddha Shakyamuni's Birth, Enlightenment and Parinirvana - Saka Dawa Düchen
The 15th of the 4th Tibetan month, Buddha Shakyamuni's Birth, Enlightenment and Parinirvana are celebrated. He was born in Lumbini (current-day Nepal) became enlightened in Bodhgaya (India) and entered parinirvana ("passed away") in Kushinagar (India). As cited by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in the Vinaya text Treasure of Quotations and Logic, virtuous actions done on this day are multiplied one hundred million times.

Practices specifically recommended by Rinpoche for Saka Dawa include:

  • Taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts
  • Doing Nyung Näs
  • Performing the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha puja
  • Of course, any other meritorious activities often advised by Lama Zopa Rinpoche are also good to do on this day, such as recitation of the Sanghatastura, Golden Light Sutra, etc. with extensive dedications. These texts are available on Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice page.

First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma - Chökhor Düchen
The 4th of the 6th month, the "First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma" (first teaching) is celebrated. For the first seven weeks after his Enlightenment, Buddha did not teach. Encouraged by Indra and Brahma, he then gave his first teachings at Sarnath on the Four Noble Truths, which forms the basis of the Buddhist teachings.

Buddha Shakyamuni's Descent from the Heaven of 33 - Lha Bab Düchen
The 22nd of the 9th month, 'Buddha Shakyamuni's Descent from the Heaven of 33' is celebrated. Buddha's mother had been reborn in Indra's heaven. To repay her kindness and to benefit the gods, Buddha spent three months teaching in the Heaven of 33. This is not as often stated, in Tushita heaven; Tushita is the realm where the Buddha lived before he descended to Earth. Possibly somewhat confusing can be that one week before, on the 15th of the 9th month, it is celebrated that he accepted to return from the Heaven of 33.


Solar and Lunar Eclipses

During a (partial) solar eclipse the effects of positive and negative actions are multiplied by 100 million times according to Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
During (partial) lunar eclipse, the factor is 7 million; practices like taking the Eight Mahayana Precepts are thus strongly advised.

Lama Tsong Khapa Day

The 25th of the 10th Tibetan month, the anniversary of Lama Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Gelugpa tradition is celebrated. Lama Zopa Rinpoche advises practices for this day on this special page.

Birthday of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

This is celebrated on the 6th of Juni of the Western calendar every year.


In the Theravada tradition the following main full-moon days are observed (information from the website of Urban Dharma):

Magha Puja (‘Sangha Day’)
The Buddha gave the teaching on the basis of the discipline (Ovada Patimokkha) to the spontaneous gathering of 1250 arahants.

Vesakha Puja (Wesak) (‘Buddha Day’)
The birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha. This is basically the same as the Tibetan Saga Dawa, although over the centuries, about one month difference has appeared in the calendars.

Asalha Puja (‘Dhamma Day’)
The Buddha’s first discourse, given to the five samanas in the Deer Park at Sarnath, near Varanasi. The traditional Rainy-Season Retreat (Vassa) begins on the next day.

Pavarana Day
This marks the end of the three-month Vassa-retreat. In the following month, lay people may offer the Kathina-robe as part of a general alms-giving ceremony.





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Last page update: 11 January, 2019  
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