In countries where Theravada Buddhism is the most dominant religion, April is the month of celebration. It marks the end of the lunisolar calendar and the beginning of another just like January 1 for most people in the world. Hence, this holiday is termed the Theravada New Year. It takes place on the first full moon of April each year. But one should take note that the exact date of celebration may vary from one country to another.
About Theravada New Year
From the name itself, you can already say that this holiday is celebrated by Theravada Buddhists. It falls in the mid to late spring. It’s counterpart for the Mahayana Buddhists, is the Mahayana new year which falls around the turn of the year for the Gregorian calendar. Buddhists who do not celebrate either the Mahayana or Theravada New year instead celebrated the Chinese New Year.
The Mahayana New Year is actually a 3-day celebration involving the full moon. The traditions and activities done during this celebration vary from one region to another. However, many Buddhists conduct rituals that involve sand and water. Some people build sand hills that symbolize Mount Meru which is the mountain located at the center of the cosmos and considered as the home of the gods. Monks are given Buddha statues. Some people pour water on each other. In the past, instead of throwing water on each other, people threw pastes, flour, dye, and tapioca on each other. But this practice is not encouraged anymore. Some colorful processions are also held during this day. On river banks, people usually construct sand sculpture. Theravada Buddhists see each grain of sand as a wrongdoing, which is considered gone when the water washes them away.
In some South East Asian countries, people celebrate the Theravada New Year by buying birds and fish. They then release these animals into the wild to show their compassion for living things as well as to build good karma. Dedicated devotees celebrate this day by spending some quiet time concentrating on their thoughts about Buddha, his birth, enlightenment, and death.
The religion of Buddhism is not a monolith. There are various traditions and schools within Buddhism. But these varieties fall under the umbrella of two major schools: Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. In terms of similarities, both schools share beliefs on reincarnation, nirvana, karma, dharma, the Four Noble Truths, and the Eight-Fold Path. But the details do vary between these two schools.
Sometimes, Mahayana Buddhists call Theravada Buddhism as Hinayana Buddhism. Hinayana actually means “little vehicle” and is not something that Theravada Buddhists would like to hear. On the other hand, Theravada means “the teachings of the elders”. This type of religion is the most prevalent in South East Asian countries including India, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. It is also prominent in areas close to the actual birthplace of Buddha. Theravada Buddhism is older than Mahayana Buddhism. Some people see it as the one that is closest to the original teachings of Buddha.
Ever since the start of the religion, Theravada Buddhists have celebrated the Theravada New Year every year on the first full moon of April. The origin of the holiday can be as old as the start of the religion itself.
As mentioned above, the Theravada New Year is always celebrated on the first full moon of April ever year. This means that the upcoming Theravada New Year will be celebrated on April 27
The following are the main reasons why you should participate in the celebration of the Theravada New Year:
To Celebrate this Special Holiday for Buddhists
If you are a Buddhist yourself, then it is all the more reason for you to celebrate the Theravada New Year. This is the opportune time for you to bond with your family and friends and join all the possible fun-filled activities held during this day.
To Celebrate with a Theravada Buddhist Friend or Relative
If you are not a Buddhist, you are still welcome to take part in the celebration. you may have a relative or a friend who is a Theravada Buddhist. If so, then you can join them in celebrating this special day wherein they welcome a new year ahead of them.
To Know More About Theravada Buddhism
If you want to know more about Theravada Buddhism, then you should definitely join in the celebration of this day. You can learn more about the start and origin of the religion as well as the holiday.
Celebration Ideas and Activities
The following are the best things to do to make your celebration of the Theravada New Year as best as it can be:
Release Captured Animals
One good thing that you can do for your celebration of this day is to release captured animals. For instance, you can buy captured fishes then release them into the sea or river where they can swim freely or you can buy captured birds then release them into the forest where they can fly freely.
Continue Being Kind to Other People
One central concept in the Buddhist religion is karma. If you are kind to other people, you will be able to receive the same level of kindness from them. But if you are mean to people, then you will receive the same treatment from other people. When you celebrate this day, this is where you internalize within yourself that you should continue being kind to other people. Doing so will allow you to ensure that they will do the same thing to you.
Build Sand Castles
Building sand castles is one of the most popular activities during this day of celebration. You can perhaps go to the beach or riverbank where you can build a sand castle. While doing so, think about all of the wrongdoings you have done in your life, recognize them as your mistakes, and think about ways on how you can correct them or to never do them again. As the waters or waves wash away your sand castle, so are your wrongdoings and you are born anew – a better person, a better individual.
Celebrate on Social Media
You can also take your celebration of this day on social media. You can, for instance, use the hashtag #TheravadaNewYear to let your friends and followers know that you are also participating in the celebration of the Theravada New Year.
Greetings and Wishes
- This new year’s greeting is sent with love. May the year be filled with health and happiness. May your days be ones of bliss.
- The coming year is filled with opportunity; our hopes are that you are successful in all you do over the coming year.
- We look back over last year and find people who have impacted our lives in a positive way, you, my dear, are one of those people.
- Smiles and happiness are in our thoughts as we think of you. Thank you for all you do. This greeting is sent in love and may your new year be great.
- Inspiration you bring to all who know you. Encouragement you always give. Thank you for all you do. Happy Theravada New Year to YOU!
- People come and go in our lives. But you are always there. May the new year bring everything you hope and dream of.
- A fresh start this new year will bring. An opportunity to do the things. Perhaps you have put off your dreams. But now is a time for them to be realized. Happy Theravada New Year to You.
- A new year, a time to set new goals. A time to reflect on the things that are important to you and the things you wish to achieve. May this year see all your dreams come true.
- In life, the important things are not things. May this year find you surrounded by family and friends who bring you happiness and joy.
- Always remember, that when I count my blessings you are counted twice. So my hope for the coming year is that you are blessed many times.
- May you experience a wonderful new year. May you look forward to each and every day. May your Mondays be as good as your Fridays. And when you look back on this upcoming New Year may your memories be positive and filled with happy thoughts.
- Each year does end and a new one begins. May this coming new year be one that leaves your worries behind and one that gives you encouragement and hope.
- Don’t focus on the challenges, look for the good in each and every day. And with this new year approaching have an attitude of gratitude and your year will be filled with happiness.