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Theravada New Year – April 6, 2023

Theravada New Year is observed three days after the first full moon appears in April every year and this day will be marked on April 6. This day marks Buddha’s birth, death, enlightenment, and the start of the rainy season. It’s known by many names, such as Songkran in Central Thailand, Pi Mai in Northern Thailand, Choul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia, and Boun Pi Mai in Laos. It’s considered the biggest holiday of the year, equivalent to the western world’s celebration of the New Year. Read on to learn more about this special holiday.

History of Theravada New Year

Buddhism is a religion that’s been around for thousands of years. It has many traditions and beliefs within it but they fall under two major schools: Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. Both share beliefs on karma, dharma, reincarnation, nirvana, the Eightfold Path, and the Four Noble Truths.

Theravada means “the teaching of the elders.” It’s prevalent in South East Asian countries such as Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. It’s also practiced in minority groups in China, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nepal, and Vietnam. Its teachings encourage knowledge, discipline, and critical reasoning through deep reflection. A number of its traditions come from the Pali Canon, the oldest recorded Buddhist text. The foundations of the Buddhist path are formed by the seven stages of purification and include the purification of conduct, the mind, and the knowledge that brings nirvana, or a state of peace, which is the ultimate goal in Buddhism. Theravada New Year is celebrated in mid-to-late spring. April is the month of celebration in places where Theravada Buddhism is the prominent religion. It signals the end of the lunisolar calendar into another new beginning. It’s observed for three days from the first full moon in April.

Water plays a big part in its observance since it represents purity. Water is symbolically used to wash away sins, and clean homes, statues, and temples to start the New Year afresh. People make visits to local temples in the morning to chant and meditate. It’s also become a tourist attraction in countries like Thailand and Myanmar. People flock to the cities for street parties, live music, traditional songs, colorful floats, local foods, parades, and water fights. No matter where or how it’s celebrated, the essence should not be forgotten.

Theravada New Year timeline

563 B.C.E.
The Birth of Buddha

Siddhartha is born after a painless delivery by his mother in Nepal.

548 B.C.E.
Buddha Gets Married

Siddharth is married at the age of 15 years to Yaśodharā.

534 B.C.E.
The Religious Wanderer

Siddhartha leaves his affluent home to live in the wilderness.

534 B.C.E.
Becoming Buddha

Siddhartha becomes Buddha after attaining a spiritual awakening.

Theravada New Year FAQs

Does Buddhism have a holy book?

Buddhavacana texts have special status as sacred scriptures and are considered in accord with the teachings of the historical Buddha, which is called “The Dharma.”

Why do Buddhist monks wear orange clothes?

Buddhist and Hindu monks wear orange robes because the color represents fire and it signifies that impurities are burned away in the fire.

What’s the difference between Hitler’s swastika and the Buddhist swastika?

The word ‘swastika’ is from the Sanskrit word ‘svastika’, meaning “to be good.” Hitler’s symbol has an X in the middle. The Buddhist version has what’s called a ‘manji’ in Japanese, which is a symbol of prosperity and happiness.

How to Observe Theravada New Year

  1. Be kind to other people

    Karma is a central concept in Buddhism, which espouses kindness towards others for the kindness to come back to you. We shouldn’t just be kind to people today, but every day.

  2. Build sandcastles

    Go to the beach or a riverbank and build a sandcastle. Think of all your mistakes in life and how to improve yourself as you build them. The waves will wash away the sandcastle as well as your wrongdoings and you’ll feel like a better person.

  3. Free captured animals

    Show your kindness to captured creatures and give them their freedom. Buy live fish and release them into the sea or river. Buy captured birds and release them.

5 Symbols In Buddhism

  1. Lotus Flower

    The flower that blossoms from muddy water is a symbol of the journey of enlightenment.

  2. Wheel of Dharma

    The round shape represents the perfection of the teachings of Buddha, its rim symbolizes meditative concentration, and the hub represents moral discipline.

  3. ‘Om’ Symbol

    This is the embodiment of the universe and the ultimate reality.

  4. Riderless Horse

    It symbolizes the flight of the young Buddha from his father’s palace as he rejects his old life to journey into a new existence.

  5. Swastika

    It portrays the feet or footprints of Buddha in Sanskrit text.

Why Theravada New Year is Important

  1. It reminds us to reflect

    It’s a time of joyous celebration. It's also a time to be aware of your mistakes and how you can improve yourself.

  2. Buddhism changed how communities are arranged

    Many of the principles taught were a first in many ways. It created opportunities for women, challenged social hierarchy, and gave people of all classes a role in spiritual practice.

  3. It can be seen as more than a religion

    Many people believe that Buddhism is not just a religion. They consider it a way of life or a spiritual tradition.

Theravada New Year dates

YearDateDay
2022April 16Saturday
2023April 6Thursday
2024April 24Wednesday
2025April 13Sunday
2026April 2Thursday

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