Today marks the historical occasion where the Buddha preached the ‘Ovada Patimokkha’ – the summary of His Teachings – at the famed Veluvana Monastery in Rājagaha more than 2,600 years ago. The Buddha taught the spontaneous gathering of 1,250 Arahant bhikkhus the outline of Dhamma practice – “To abandon evil; cultivate virtues; and to purify one’s own mind”.
This event is today celebrated as ‘Māgha Pūja Day’, as it happened on the full-moon day in the month of ‘Māgha’. It is mainly celebrated in Theravada Buddhist countries of Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, where it is one of their national holidays.
Members of the Sangha would gather to recite the same verses taught by the Buddha, and hold candlelight processions around the ‘Uposatha-ghara’ (Monastic Hall). Many lay people would also spend the whole day and night in monasteries listening to the Dhamma, practising meditation, and performing various meritorious deeds.