Prabarana Purnima a Buddhist festival, also known as Axvini Purnima. Prabarana means both adopting wholly and forbidding. In the first sense it means dedicating oneself to the ideal of a life of humility; in the sense of forbidding, it means avoiding all acts contrary to the ideals of buddhism. At the end of the monsoon rites of barsabas, viksus are required to confess their guilt and shortcomings and seek atonement. Forgiveness has to be sought even for sins committed beyond one's knowledge. In other words, Prabarana aims at avoiding sin at all steps of life and remaining steadfast in good deeds.
Prabarana is observed on the day of the full moon in the month of Ashvin. After Prabarana, the viksus are required to go to the villages to spread the message of Buddhism. At the end of Prabarana, every vihara celebrates the festival of kathin chivar dan, when robes are given to the viksus.
According to Buddhist scriptures, on this day Lord Buddha went to the abode of the gods, and, after blessing his mother, returned to earth. To mark this event, the Buddhists send up balloons as a symbol of lighting up the sky. The day also celebrates another event in the life of Buddha. According to this legend, Buddha once clipped some strands of hair from his head and said that if he was qualified to attain supreme wisdom, the hairs would not fall down but go up instead, which they did. The balloons also commemorate this event. To celebrate the day, many religious events are organised, including worshipping the Buddha. [Sukomal Barua]