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Sojong (Poṣhadha)

The Meaning of Poṣhadha

In Indian Hindu societies, members of the community regularly observe rites for renewing their connection with virtue. The days of the new and full moons are regarded as holy and set aside for purification of non-virtue and re-establishment of virtue. Those days, and the purification rites performed on those days, are called upavasatha. Upavasatha, a Vedic Sanskrit word, literally means “to stay; wait; abide in a state of abstinence; to abstain from food.” In pre-Buddhist times, upavasatha was a day of fasting and, in particular, a day on which one prepared oneself spiritually for the main rite of soma on the next day.

When the Buddha was setting up the framework of Buddhist practice he took many of the traditions which were in effect at the time, and which he saw to have a useful basis, and turned them into Buddhist rites. One of those was the tradition of upavasatha. The Buddhist practice which grew out of upavasatha is known as uposatha in the Pali tradition and poṣhadha in Buddhist Sanskrit.

For Buddhists, the ess