Another national holiday on the heels of Asalaha Puja. ‘Entering the Pansa’ is a special time for monks. For the following three months they are not supposed to travel out of the temple overnight.
Formerly the monks were wanderers, staying in remote places and always travelling, but, the story has it, some farmers complained that by travelling at this time of the year they were trampling crops. Thus they were requested by the farmers to stay in the temples (or designated areas) for the Rains period.
Anyway, since the teaching of Buddhism was transmitted by chanting, the three month period was a useful way to combine with other monks and practise chanting various recitation sections. Monks would learn at least one section (there are hundreds such sections) and recite with others. Groups that undertook one section would then go chant to groups who had learned other sections. A good way to keep the teaching alive.
Some allowances were made for those monks who needed to travel away overnight – such as to teach lay people, to visit sick relatives or talk to monks who were wavering in their commitment and in danger of disrobing.
In the morning then, the monks will designate the area they consider to be ‘inside’ the monastery, and recite a pali formula committing them to staying there for 3 months. It is often a big thing for monks to try and find a suitable place to ’spend the pansa’.
Because there is often extra teaching over this period, and a stable community, many Thai men will ordain for the 3 month period as a temporary ordination.
For our group too, in Bangkok, while there are no other monks travelling through, we will mark the period with meeting for Dhamma talk and meditation every Thursday evening – announcements for this will follow in the next week.