Thailand is a country that is rich in culture and diversity. While the Kingdom has no official religion, approximately 90% of the Thai population practices Buddhism. Throughout the calendar year, there are many important Buddhist celebrations and holidays. One of the most important happens annually in February or March, and it is called Makha Bucha Day or Magha Puja.
Based on the Lunar Calendar, Makha Bucha Day is celebrated on the full moon of the third lunar month. It is a day to honor Buddha and his teachings, which he delivered to a number of followers on this day.
The narrative that surrounds the reason why Makha Bucha Day is celebrated is quite interesting. 45 years before the Buddhist era, on the full moon day of the third lunar month and exactly 9 months after Lord Buddha was able to achieve Enlightenment, four special things happened.
Firstly, 1250 followers came to see Lord Buddha at Wat Veluvana in northern India. The followers showed up unexpectedly without an appointment. All of them were chosen as the Enlightened One and ordained by the Lord Buddha. After the ordination, Lord Buddha gave important teachings to the followers on some main principles of Buddhism: to cease from evil, to do what is good and to cleanse one’s mind. All of this was considered auspicious as it was already a full moon day.
Curiously, on the exact same day 44 years later, Buddha made the decision of when he would reach Nirvana. He passed away three months later on the full moon day of the sixth lunar month.
Makha Bucha Day is an important day in the Thai Buddhist calendar, and it is celebrated in a number of ways. Most Thai people observe the holiday by visiting the temple and making merit, or offering alms to the monks in the early morning. At the temple, Thais usually leave candles, flowers or incense for the Buddha statues.
The precepts of Buddhism are widely observed on this day, which means abstinence from alcohol and acts deemed immoral. Please note that most establishments selling alcohol are closed this day, which is important to note for those who are in Thailand on holiday during this Thai Cultural event.
Other Buddhist activities to partake in this day include lectures on mental discipline and meditation. It’s important for those who practice Buddhism to keep a clear mind and focus on Lord Buddha’s teachings. Many Thai people tend to wear white on this day as a symbol of purity.
One of the interesting events to take part in during Makha Bucha Day is the evening Candlelight Procession. The majority of Buddhist temples across Phuket host this procession. You may watch, and it’s a beautiful event to witness and take part in. However, during the procession, devout Buddhists walk around the Ubosot (Ordination Hall) clockwise three times, praying and holding flowers, incense or candles. Makha Bucha is a day deemed of pure gratitude towards Lord Buddha and all of his teachings. You can read more HERE
While staying at Nakalay Palm, it will be easy to observe Thai Culture and the Makha Bucha Days on Tuesday 19th February 2019 and Sunday 9th February 2020. Buddhist ceremonies and rituals will take place at all of the temples across Phuket from dawn to dusk. Should you be interested in taking part in the Makha Bucha Day celebrations, there are many temples to visit. Suwan Khiri Wong Buddhist Temple in Patong is loacl to /Nakalay Palm Resort.