Post the first Rains Retreat (Vassa) at the Deer Park in Sarnath, the Buddha reached the Rajagaha city. Here, without seeking His permission, 1250 Arahats along with two of the His main disciples, Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Moggalana, assembled to pay their respect to Him at the Veruvana Monastery. To this assembly, the Buddha delievered his sermon, or recitation of the Patimokkha (the rules and regulations of the monastic order).
The Magh Day Puja, today, is celebrated to commemorate this event which took place early in the life of the Buddha.
On Why It is Called The Magha Puja Day/Four Fold Sangha/Sangha Day
This assembly had four distinct features. First, all those 1250 who gathered were Arahants. Secondly, they were all ordained by the Buddha himself. Thirdly, all of them gathered on their own without any prior invation from the Buddha and lastly the gathering took place on the full moon day of Magha month (March).
Because of these features, the festival is also known as the Fourfold Assembly, Magha Puja Day or the Sangha Day.
Siginificance of the Festival
The festival is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Buddhist community. The festival honours the Sangha, or the Buddhist community and offers a chance to the people to reaffirm their faith and commitment to Buddhist practices and traditions.
The Sangha or the spiritual community, is extremely important in Buddhism because it is one of the three jewels of Buddhism apart from the Buddha and the Dhamma.
Celebration of the Festival
For the ordained community, the festival is a chance to come together and carry out meetings to discuss various aspects of the Buddhs's teachings, indulge in group meditation and listen to talks given by senior members of the community. The Sangha Day is also a time for exchange of gifts and lighting of oil lamps.
Celebration varies from country to country, however, it is in the west that more importance is given to the festival.
Time of Celebration
The festival is celebrated on on the full moon day of the third lunar month (March).