The annual summer retreat also known by Vassa, the annual “rainy retreat,” is an annual one and half month monastic retreat practiced in Buddhist monasteries. The one and half months are determined by the lunar calendar and, usually it begins in the fifteenth day of the sixth month till the end of seventh month.
During the retreat, monks remain in residence within the monastery and leave its grounds only when necessary. Monks devote their times in studying sutras and meditations. Laypeople practice meritorious activities by supporting the monks with food and other necessities.
The summer retreat is timed to coincide with the monsoon seasons.
In Ogyen Tsuklag Monastery, the Yarney retreat will be organized from 12 August 2022 for a period of 45 days. It will be led by Khenpo Tshoki Dorji and participated by 40 monks of the monastery.
Origin of the Summer Retreat
Before the traditional monastery system, Monks and nuns take shelters in the forest. They walk to villages to receive food offerings from the devotees.
But during the monsoon seasons, the incessant downpour didn’t just make travel difficult for the buddha and his sangha’s, small animals that come out in the rain could be crushed underfoot. It could also damage the newly planted crops. And to spare animals and crops, the Buddha established a rule that sangha’s will remain in the retreat.
In the beginning, they spend the summer retreat wherever they were offered shelter, sometimes at the estates of wealthy patrons until one of the buddhas lay devotee Anathapindika offered Jetavana monastery in Savatthi Kosala. It became the first monastery of Buddhist tradition.