The beginning of the monsoon season in Cambodia also marks "Chol Vassa,"
known as Buddhist Lent or the Buddhist Rains Retreat.
During this three-month period starting on the first waning of the eighth moon-which
fell on July 15 this year-monks no longer make their early-morning rounds seeking
alms and rice. Instead they are required to stay inside the temples, where they concentrate
on studying the dhamma, or Buddhist precepts.
Chol Vassa, practiced throughout Buddhist Southeast Asia, originated from the need
of wandering monks to seek shelter indoors during the rainy season. In addition,
villagers didn't want monks tromping through the fields during the planting season,
ruining the seedlings.
Coinciding with school vacation, Chol Vassa is also a period for boys and young men
to temporarily enter the monkhood, studying the dhamma and earning merit for their