From the peak of the rainy season till the full moon in October, the Buddhist monks of Myanmar attend retreats known as ‘Varsa’.
‘Varsa’ is derived from the period where the Buddha taught his five disciples. For three months the monks worship at the monasteries and are only allowed to leave for work or if they are ill.
Traditionally, the Buddhist people of Myanmar invite monks to auspicious occasions such as weddings, house warmings and the opening of new businesses; and they donate generously believing it is virtuous.
However, since monks avoid going out during the retreat period, the people try to attain virtue by visiting monasteries more often.
I asked the people if they are longing for ‘Varsa’ to end. They do, however many people take it seriously and are therefore happy to come to the monasteries.
Recently, Myanmar’s military regime is changing rapidly and becoming more democratic. With an open market development should spread from the urban areas.
I live in Tokyo in Japan, a city where people chase time and focus on pursuing profit, which results in us losing the richness of our humanity. The change in environment where the nation becomes more of an Americanized consumer society like Japan may affect the ways that grew from Buddhism.
However, for now, I see no change in the temperament of the people, when I see those who, as Buddhists, are waiting quietly for the conclusion of ‘Varsa’.
-During the meditation retreat period for 90 days starting on 15th day of the 4th month of the Iunisolar calendar.