Home Culture Makha Bucha, an important Buddhist festival in Thailand

Makha Bucha, an important Buddhist festival in Thailand

by Pierre To
6 minutes to read
Makha Bucha, an important Buddhist festival in Thailand

Makha Bucha Day is a Buddhist festival, which takes place every year on the night of the full moon of the third month of the lunar calendar, and is a public holiday.

Makha "is the Pali word for the third lunar month, while bucha "means to honour or venerate.

As Makha Bucha Day (in Thai: วัน มาฆบูชา) is based on the lunar calendar, the date varies from year to year.

This year Makha Bucha Day will be celebrated on 6 March 2023.

Origin of Makha Bucha

On the full moon day of the third lunar month (Makha) of the year, nine months after the illumination of BuddhaFour special events took place:

  1. 1,250 followers of the Sangha (Buddhist community) decided to come and see the Buddha at Weluwan Wannaram without prior consultation.
  2. All were Arhants (1), saints who had attained enlightenment and all were ordained by the Buddha himself.
  3. It was the first big assembly of a group of Buddhist monks so the Buddha taught these Arhants the three fundamental principles of Buddhism, called "The Ovadhapatimokha" which is considered the first constitution for all the laws of Buddhist monks from then until now.
  4. It was the day of the full moon.

The three fundamental precepts taught by Buddha

The 3 precepts are:

  1. Refrain from committing any kind of impurity
  2. Being good and doing good
  3. Cleanse your mind

Makha Bucha in Thailand

The Thailand began celebrating the Makha Bucha festival during the reign of King Rama IV, about 150 years ago.

King Rama IV considered Buddhist teachings to be very important, recognising Makha Bucha as one of the most remarkable events in Buddhist history.

His Majesty therefore presented the first Makha Bucha Day celebration to members of his royal family and courtiers.

The celebration quickly gained popularity among the Siamese population.

Activities to be observed during Makha Bucha

For Buddhists, but you can also participate:

Making merit (tam boune) by going to temples, listening to Dhamma teachings, giving offerings and participating in ceremonies.

Offer food to monks and novices.

Offer food to monks and novices.

Observe the five precepts:

  • Do not kill
  • Do not fly
  • Do not engage in sexual misconduct (do not cheat)
  • Do not lie
  • Do not drink alcohol

Candlelight procession: wian thian

Candlelight procession: wian thian

In the evening, every temple in Thailand holds a candlelight procession called a wian thian (wian means "to go around").

Holding flowers, incense and a lit candle, the monks and congregation members walk clockwise around the phra ubosot (ordination hall) three times, once for each of the three jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.

Buddhists from all over the country flock to the temples to participate in these processions.

The Thai government has made this day a bank holiday so that people can participate in religious rituals and perform good merit for their karma.

Meditate :

Many temples, religious centres and mediation centres welcome both Buddhist Thais and foreigners (regardless of their religion) to participate in mediation sessions throughout the country.

Prohibition on drinking alcohol

Alcohol is not served in observance of religious holidays in Thailand.

On Makha Bucha, drinking alcohol is not only considered a religious violation, but also a civil offence.

Bars, restaurants, supermarkets, department stores, retail and convenience stores, and even some hotels are not allowed to sell or serve alcohol to customers and their guests.

Violation of this alcohol ban can result in imprisonment of up to six months and a heavy fine (10,000 baht as of the last decree).

PS: I don't know if this is a law that applies only to Thai people, but in general bars for foreigners are sometimes open with the curtain half closed and serve alcohol very discreetly.

Finally, it is better to respect this holiday and abstain!

(1) The difference between a Buddha and an Arhant is that a Buddha attains enlightenment on his own while the Arhant attains enlightenment through a teaching.

See also :

Theravada Buddhism in Thailand, the country's main religion

Important dates for public holidays in Thailand

Learn to meditate: complete meditation course

Source: learnthaiwithmod.com ; Wikipedia ; Photos: Monks light candles at Wat Phan Tao: John Shedrick Candlelight procession: Honey Kochphon Onshawee; Buddha's teaching: terimakasih0 Offering to the monks : sasint

Was this article useful to you?

Click on the stars to rate it!

Average score 5 / 5. Counting of votes : 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful....

Share it on social media 😉

We're sorry this post wasn't useful to you!

Let's improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

You may also like