Translations of
(Pinyin: yu an ju)
(UNGEGN: vôssa)
Laoພັນສາ, ວັດສາ
[pʰán sǎː], Watsa
Thaiพรรษา, วรรษา
RTGSphansa, pronounced [pʰān.sǎː]
Vietnamesean cư
Glossary of Buddhism
Monk at Vassa

Vassa (Pali: vassa-, Sanskrit: varṣa-, both "rain") is the three-month annual retreat observed by Theravada Buddhists. Taking place during the wet season, Vassa lasts for three lunar months, usually from July (the Burmese month of Waso, ဝါဆို) to October (the Burmese month of Thadingyut, သီတင်းကျွတ်).[1]

In English, Vassa is often glossed as Rains Retreat.[2] While Vassa is sometimes casually called "Buddhist Lent", others object to this terminology.[3][4]

For the duration of Vassa, monastics remain in one place, typically a monastery or temple grounds.[4][5] In some monasteries, monks dedicate the Vassa to intensive meditation.[4] Some Buddhist lay people choose to observe Vassa by adopting more ascetic practices, such as giving up meat, alcohol, or smoking.[1] In Thailand, the sale of alcohol is prohibited on the first (Wan Khao Phansa) and last (Wan Ok Phansa) days of Vassa.[6] Commonly, the number of years a monk has spent in monastic life is expressed by counting the number of vassas (or rains) since ordination.

Mahayana Buddhists also observe Vassa. Vietnamese Thiền and Korean Seon monastics observe an equivalent retreat of three months of intensive practice in one location, a practice also observed in Tibetan Buddhism.[citation needed]

Vassa begins on the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month, which is the day after Asalha Puja or Asalha Uposatha ("Dhamma day"). It ends on Pavarana, when all monastics come before the sangha and atone for any offense that might have been committed during Vassa.

Vassa is followed by Kathina, a festival in which the laity expresses gratitude to monks.[7][8] Lay Buddhists bring donations to temples, especially new robes for the monks.[7][8][9]

The Vassa tradition predates the time of Gautama Buddha.[1] It was a long-standing custom for mendicant ascetics in India not to travel during the rainy season as they may unintentionally harm crops, insects or even themselves during their travels.[4][non-primary source needed] Many Buddhist ascetics live in regions which lack a rainy season.[8] Consequently, there are places where Vassa may not be typically observed.[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Vassa at
  2. ^ "Vassa". Archived from the original on 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2010-10-14.
  3. ^ Thein, Cherry (14–20 July 2008). "Shwedagon Pagoda marks the start of Buddhist Lent this week". The Myanmar Times. Archived from the original on 21 September 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Lay Buddhist Practice - The Shrine Room, Uposatha Day, Rains Residence
  5. ^ Was (Thai) Vassa
  6. ^ "Religious holidays bring two alcohol ban days, four-day weekend". The Phuket News. 3 July 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  7. ^ a b Vassa (Rains Retreat) and Kathina (Robe Offering) Ceremony
  8. ^ a b c d Vassa, The Rains Retreat
  9. ^ Kathina at BBC