Yesterday the Theravada Buddhist monks and nuns have started Vassa, the "rains retreat." This is three-month duration of intensive training that begins on the first day after the full moon of the eighth lunar month of the common Buddhist calendar. Monks and nuns will remain inside monasteries and temple grounds, devoting their time to meditation and learning and the Vassa will end on 4th October 2009.
Public make merit during Vassa by bringing food, candles and other necessary supplies to the temples. Sometimes they take vows to observe Vassa with daily chanting and meditation or by giving up something they wish, such as drinking alcohol, smoking or eating meat. This final practice had made some westerners to call Vassa as the "Buddhist Lent".
Theravada monks and scholar Bhikkhu Khantipalo objects to equate Vassa with Lent and also writes the purpose of Vassa.
This is simply to create some zeal for Dhamma in oneself i.e. to bring the Dhamma onto the life of oneself. Not just to take a mild intellectual interest in it but also to make the basis of one's life. "What can I DO?" Not to content the play with the ideas of "Buddhism" and also making sure that these do not touch one's precious self, but to get into Dhamma so that what is rotten in oneself is altered.