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Theravada New Year

Theravada Buddhism Followers Celebrating Their New Year on "Theravada New Year Holiday" observed next on April 27

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.

History

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.

Dates

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

Why Celebrate

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

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