Magha Puja
Sermon at the bamboo grove
Cease to do evil,
cultivate that which is good;
purify the heart.
This is the Way
of the Awakened Ones.

Extract from the Ovada Patimokkha

On a full moon in the month of Magha, 1250 arahants* gathered spontaneously to pay their respects to the Buddha in the bamboo groove at the Veruvana monastery, Rajgarh. The Buddha took this opportunity to transmit to them a code of discipline (Ovada Patimokkha), which to this day monks are expected to recite every fortnight; he also summarised his teaching, as well as predicting his death.

The festival of Magha Puja commemorates this occasion. The day is observed with meditation, chanting and sermons, while at night, candlelit circumambulations are performed around major Buddhist temples. In some places, people take the opportunity to perform works of merit, for instance preparing food for the monks.

*A word meaning ‘to be worthy’: denotes one who has attained enlightenment. In this instance, what was also remarkable was that each of the arahants had been ordained by the Buddha himself.