Uposatha is an important day for the Buddhists, specially those following the Theravada tradition. Find more details below.
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As per Bible, the Sabbath is a religious day of rest every week as ordained by the Ten Commandments. In Buddhism, this sabbath is the Uposatha. The day was instituted by the Buddha to honour the request of King Bimbisara. The Buddha explained that this day was meant to purify the polluted mind which would in turn lead to inner tranquility and happiness. He urged the monks to disseminate the teachings to the lay people and recite the Patimokkha every second day Uposatha Day themselves.

The term Uposatha owes its origin to the Sanskrit word 'upavastha' which means the pre Buddhist fast day that preceded Vedic sacrifices. The weekly uposatha is observed on the basis of four phases of the moon - the full moon, the new moon and two quarter moon in between. In quiet a few communities, only the new moon and the full moon are kept as the uposatha day.

Today, the weekly day is observed in mostly the Theravada countries. The dates are chalked out on the basis of a difficult traditional formula that is based on the lunar calendar. Because of this, the dates, quiet a number of times, do not match with actual astronomical dates. To worsen the situation even more, the various sects of the Theravada Buddhism have different calendar.

The Five Most Important Uposatha Day
These five full moon uposatha day are of special mention.
The Observance Practice
The day for a lay practioner is basically meant for observance of the Eight Precepts. They have to reaffirm their faith and commitment to the Dhamma. If a monastery is nearby, lay practioners visit them and present their offerings to the Sangha. Listening to the Dhamma talks, chanting special suttas and practising meditation in the late night also forms part of their practice.

For the monastic community, however, the practice differs a bit. They are required to undertake more intensive reflection and meditation. On the full and New Moon days, the recitation of the Bhikkhu Patimokkha (monastic rules of conduct) takes place. However, before the commencement of the recitation, the monks have to confess whether they have violated any monastic rules to another monk of the Sangha. The recitation itself, can take, anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. In a number of monasteries, physical labour is stopped for the day.

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