Makha Bucha Day ( วัน มาฆบูชา) is a Buddhist holiday, which takes place every year, on the night of the full moon in the 3rd month of the lunar calendar.
It is a public holiday.
“Makha” is the word Pali for the third lunar month, while “bucha” means to honor or worship.
As Makha Bucha is based on the lunar calendar, the date varies from year to year.
- Next Makha Bucha’s day will be celebrated on February 9, 2020.
Origine of Makha Bucha
It was nine full months after the Buddha had enlightenment, on the full moon day of the 6th lunar month, 45 years before the Buddhist era.
On the full moon day of the 3rd lunar month, Makha, of the year, four special events occurred:
1. There were 1,250 Sangha (Buddhist community) supporters who decided to come to Weluwan Wannaram to see the Buddha without a prior appointment after traveling and teaching Buddhism.
2. All were Arahants (1), the Buddha himself ordered saints who had reached enlightenment and all.
3. This was the first major assembly of a group of Buddhist monks, so the Buddha taught these Arhants the three fundamental principles of Buddhism, called “Ovadhapatimokha” which is considered the first constitution for all laws of Buddhist monks from then on until now.
The three fundamental precepts taught by Buddha
The three precepts are:
1. Refrain from committing all kinds of impurities
2. Being good and doing good
3. Purify your mind
Makha Bucha in Thailand
Thailand began celebrating the feast of Makha Bucha under the reign of King Rama IV about 150 years ago.
King Rama IV considered Buddhist teachings to be very important, recognizing that Makha Buchawas one of the most remarkable events in Buddhist history.
Her Majesty, therefore, presented the first celebration of the day of Makha Bucha to members of her royal family and her courtiers.
The celebration quickly gained popularity among the Siamese population.
Activities to be observed during Makha Bucha
For Buddhists, but you can also participate:
Do merit (tam boune) by going to temples, listening to Dhamma teaching, giving donations, and participating in ceremonies.
Offer food to monks and novices.
1 – Do not kill
2 – Do not steal
3 – Not having sexual misconduct (not cheating)
4 – Not to lie
5 – Do not drink alcohol
Candlelight procession: wian thian
In the evening, each temple in Thailand organizes a candlelight procession called wian thian (wian meaning “to go around”).
They are holding flowers, incense, and a lit candle, monks and members of the congregation walk three times clockwise around the Phra Ubosot (ordination room), once for each of the three jewels: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Buddhists from all over the country flock to the temples to participate in these processions.
The Thai government has made today a national holiday so that people can participate in religious rituals and perform well for their karma.
Many temples, religious centers, and mediation centers welcome both Thai Buddhists and foreigners (regardless of their religion) who wish to participate in mediation sessions organized throughout the country.
Ban on drinking alcohol
Alcohol is not served in the observance of religious holidays in Thailand.
On the day of Makha Bucha, alcohol consumption is considered not only a religious violation but also a civil offense.
Bars, restaurants, supermarkets, department stores, retail and convenience stores, and even some hotels are prohibited from selling or serving alcohol to customers and their guests.
Violation of this alcohol prohibition may result in a prison sentence of up to six months and a heavy fine (10,000 baht since the last decree).
PS: I don’t know if this is a law that only applies to Thai people, but in general foreign bars are sometimes opened with the semi-closed curtain and serve alcohol very discreetly.
Finally, it is better to abstain!
(1) The difference between a Buddha and an Arhant is that the Buddha reaches enlightenment alone while the Arhant reaches it through teaching.
Source: learnthaiwithmod.com; Wikipedia; Photos: Candlelight procession: Honey Kochphon Onshawee; Buddha teaching: terimakasih0; Offering to monks: saint
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