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Uposatha (Pali; Sanskrit उपवसथ upavasatha Upavasatha "fast day"; Thai: Wan Phra ) is a Buddhist holiday , a day of inner contemplation, the renewal of Dharma practice and observance of Uposatha- Silas .

The Uposatha day occupies an important position in Theravada Buddhism, in Mahayana Buddhism the Uposatha days are only of minor importance.


The term Uposatha comes from the Rig Veda . In the ancient verses, the Upavasatha was mentioned, a day of preparation for the so-called Soma ritual, which was usually observed by fasting . These preparations were made on the days of the crescent moon, the full moon, and the new moon. Even in pre-Buddhist times, non-Vedic sects used these days for gathering and contemplation in order to proclaim their Dharma . At the suggestion of the Magadha King Seniya Bimbisara , the Buddha adopted this practice and ordered that his disciples gather on these days.


The calendar of the Uposatha days is calculated according to a complex traditional formula, which is based on the lunar calendar (see: Thai lunar calendar ). This means that the calculated point in time does not necessarily match the current astronomical constellations. The various religious communities within Theravada Buddhism (see e.g. Thammayut Nikaya ) also have slightly different calculation formulas. Roughly speaking, the Uposatha days fall on the full moon, the new moon and the two crescent days that lie exactly in between. The interval between the Uposatha days can be five, six or seven days.


The Uposathas on the last day of the half of the month, i.e. on the new moon or full moon day, are more significant than those in between. Because on these days the bhikkhus also hold the Patimokkha celebration , i.e. That is, they recite the 227 training rules as laid down by the Buddha.

On the Uposatha days, lay people not only observe the usual Five Silas , but also the eight precepts: Do not kill or injure, do not take what has not been given, do not speak wrongly (i.e. do not lie, speak hurtful or chatter empty), none Sexual acts, no intoxicating substances, no eating after the sun has reached its highest point, no entertainment (music / theater, etc.) or physical cleaning (jewelry, make-up, perfume, etc.), and no sleep or no longer on high or wide beds sleep than necessary. This serves to practice conscious, loving and mindful handling of the path along with letting go of sensual things and to concentrate fully on the study of Buddhist teachings and contemplation on this day and largely to avoid all possible distractions. If possible, the lay people use these days to visit their local monastery, listen to Dhamma lectures by the monks and meditate with like-minded people until late at night.

Todays situation

In the Theravada countries (Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka), Uposatha day used to be a day off. But due to the increasing westernization, the western weekend and thus the work-free Sunday has meanwhile become more important. In the Theravada monasteries in western countries, it is true that in some cases the Uposatha days are spread over a weekend so that more lay people can participate, but the Patimokkha is still recited on the correct day.

Even if traditionally it is mostly only the elders of the community who come together at Uposatha in the monastery, this day has a great influence on religious life in the rural areas of the Theravada countries.

Special holidays

There are some Uposatha days on the full moon that have special meanings in the Buddhist calendar:

  • Magha Puja (usually in February) - sometimes called "Sangha Day", it reminds of the spontaneous, unsolicited gathering of 1250 arahants in front of the Buddha. On this occasion the Buddha gave the Ovada-Patimokkha Gatha, a summary of the main points of his teaching.
  • Visakha Puja (usually in May) - also called "Buddha Day". It commemorates the birth, enlightenment and complete extinction ( Parinibbana ) of the Buddha.
  • Asalha Puja (usually in July) - the "Dhamma Day" commemorates the first speech the Buddha gave to his followers in the deer park of Sarnath near Varanasi (today Benares) after he was enlightened.
  • Pavarana Day (usually in October) - marks the end of the three-month rainy season retreat (see Khao Phansa , Ok Phansa ). The following month, new robes are donated to the monks at the Kathina ceremony.
  • Anapanasati Day (usually in November) - At the end of the three-month rainy season retreat, the Buddha was extremely pleased with the spiritual progress of his monks that he suggested extending this period of retreat by another month. At the end of that month, on the day of the full moon, he presented his Anapanasati sutta , Mindfulness of Inhalation and Exhalation.

Comparison with other religions

Since Uposatha days are celebrated about every week, their function can be compared with Sunday in Christianity , or with the Sabbath of Judaism .

In Buddhism, the activities associated with Uposatha are always undertaken voluntarily. Nobody will be judged if they ignore these days.

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