The eleventh month in the 12th month lunar calendar of Myanmar people is Tabodwe which approximately corresponds to February. This year 2018 the Tabodwe Fullmoon falls on the 31st of January.
Traditional monthly festival of Tabodwe is the bonfire festival the ceremonial offering of scented bon-fire to provide warmth to the Buddha, the Sangha [monks] and the elders at the peak of cold season in the month of Tabodwe. Bon-fire is made in circular terracotta container in which fragrant scented woods are burnt and offered at night fall or early morning when it is icy cold. Glutinous rice snack “Htamane” is prepared which is seasoned with ingredients of Sesamum, peanut, ginger and sliced coconut. In cold season human body needs natural oil for its dry skins. These two festivals the bon-fire and the concoction of rice snack Htamane are quite common.
Little or unknown occasion of Tabodwe is the special religious event of Pātimokkha Day on the fullmoon of Tabodwe. According to Pali-Myanmar Dictionary by U Hoke Sein “Pātimokkha” is a collection of precepts contained in the Vinaya [Rules of Discipline for the Sangha monks]. This is the name given to a collection of the various precepts contained in the Vinaya, beginning with the four pārājikas and ending with the Adhikaranasamatha which are precepts solemnly read twice a month in every monastery.
There are two Pātimokkhas, namely (1). Ānāpātimokkha and (2). Ovādapātimokkha. Ānāpātimoldcha is a body of vinaya disciplinary rules 227 rules for male monks [bhikkhu] and 311 rules for bhikkhuni or female monks, laid down by the Buddha. These rules are collectively called Anāpātimokkha.
Ovādapātimoldcha has only three lines of Pali as follows:
Sacittapariyo dapanam louddhāna Sāsanarn”.
The meaning of them are as follows:
The avoidance of all evil
The undertaking of good deeds
The cleansing of one’s mind
This is the teaching of the awakened ones.
Five sentences in Pali further explain and elaborate Ovādapātimokkha as follows:
“Khanti paramaām tapo titikkhā, nibbānam paramam vadanti buddhā nahi pabbajito parūpaghātī, nasamunohiti param vihethayanto.’’
Meaning “Patience and forbearance are the highest austerity. The awakened ones say nibbāna is the highest. One is certainly not a wanderer if one injurers others; one is not an ascetic if one harms another.
“Anūpavādo anūpaghāto, Patimokkha ca Samvaramattaññuta ca bhattasamim, pentañaca sayanasanam.
Abhicitte ca ayogo, etam buddhāna Sāsanam.’’
Not abusing, not injuring, and restraint under the rules of discipline, and knowing moderation in eating, and secluded lodgings, and exertion in respect of higher thought, is the teaching of the awakened ones.
All enlightened Buddhas gave Ovādapātimokkha to all their pupils who gather together on fullmoon day of Tabodwe.
In the time of Gotama Buddha, his two disciple monks Ashin Sariputtara and Ashin Maha Moggalan became saint monks on the fullmoom day of Tabodwe. The two also received from Lord Buddha distinctions in wisdom and knowledge for Ashin Sariputtara and jana abinyan for Ashin Maha Kassapa on the fullmoon day of Tabodwe.
In the time of Buddha Sasana, all monks hold congregation in the Sima [Ordination hall] on every fullmoon day and no moon day to receive both Anāpātimkkha and Ovādapātimokkha.
Only living Buddhas are entitled to give Ovādapātimokkha after they attained 20 visas [ordained years].
There are four requirements needed for the delivery of Ovādapātimokkha. (1). Fullmoon day of Tabodwe (2). Gathering of all confirmed bhikkhu monks [Ehibhikkus] (3). Saint monks (4). Voluntary gathering without invitation.
In Oāadapātimokkha the essence of Buddha’s teachings is given by learned monk Sayadaws in simple gatha [Pāli poem].
Undertake good deed
Keep clean mind.
On fullmoon day, Ovādapātimokkha Day is held at Pagodas, monasteries and Dhamma teaching halls. Monks narrate its background history, explain its meaning and importance to the audience gathered, and Metta Sutta is chantted.