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July 27, 2018
This important Theravada Buddhist festival, also known as Asalha Puja, celebrates the Buddha’s first sermon following his enlightenment. This first pivotal sermon, often referred to as “setting into motion the wheel of Dharma,” is the teaching which encapsulates for Buddhists the four noble truths: there is suffering (dukkha); suffering is caused by craving (tanha); there is a state (nibbana) beyond suffering and craving; and finally, the way to nirvana is via the eightfold path. All the various schools and traditions of Buddhism revolve around this central doctrine of the four noble truths.
This first sermon is not only the first structured discourse given by the Buddha after his enlightenment, it also contains the essence of all his subsequent teaching. At the end of the talk, one of the five participants recounted his understanding of what had been said and asked to be received as a disciple, a request the Buddha granted, thus establishing the first order of monks.
The day is observed by donating offerings to temples and listening to sermons.