"We monks are always on the way, except during the rainy season."

In the months of June to September, during the Indian summers, the moisture-laden air rises from the Thar Desert, moves in from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, and strikes against the Himalayan mountain ranges, resulting in the monsoon rains.

One of the earliest rules formulated for the Buddhist Sangha was that the monks and nuns were not allowed to travel during the monsoon. The monks and nuns would gather at one of the several centers donated to the Sangha by the Buddha’s patrons. These “rain retreats” were used for giving discourses, and memorizing parables and teachings. Eventually, these retreats were made into permanent establishments, and hence the foundations of the first monasteries were laid.

In South East Asia, the Theravada monks observe Vassa, a three-month "rains retreat." During Vassa, monks remain in their monasteries and meditate, while the laity brings in offerings of food and other supplies. Many Mahayana sects also observe some form of three-month intensive practice period to respect the rains retreat tradition of the first Sangha.

In South East Asia, the Theravada monks observe Vassa, a three-month "rains retreat." During Vassa, monks remain in their monasteries and intensify their meditation practice. Lay people participate by bringing them food and other supplies. Elsewhere in Asia, many Mahayana sects also observe some form of three-month intensive practice period to respect the rains retreat tradition of the first monks.