May 29, 2013

Visakha Bucha Day Celebration

Visakha Bucha Day is an important religious festival in the Buddhist calendar, falling usually in May on the full moon day of the sixth lunar month.

When a year has an extra eighth lunar month –Adhikamasa (there are 13 full moons in that year)– the Visakha Bucha Day falls on the full moon day of the seventh lunar month (June).This year the religious holiday will be celebrated Friday 24 May and is a public holiday in most Mekong region countries namely Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia and also Singapore.

Visakha Bucha Day is one of the most important days in the Buddhism calendar because it marks three important milestones in the life of Lord Buddha; birth, enlightenment and death. They all fall miraculously on the same day and month. Buddhists, worldwide, gather together to worship and listen to sermons on teachings of the Lord Buddha.

Rituals on Visakha Bucha day have been observed in Jambudavipa or India, the motherland of Buddhism, for centuries long before Buddhism spread to Sri Lanka and Thailand.

In Thailand, Visakha Bucha was first observed during the Sukhuthai period (around 700 years ago), because of the close religious links between Thailand and Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan monks came to propagate Buddhism in Thailand and were highly respected. Thai monks also went to study in Sri Lanka. It is understood that, those monks introduced this ceremony to the King and people at that time.

Devout Buddhists will rise early to make merit at temples. In some temples, Buddhists will perform “Wien Tien” in the evenings, circling the bodh, or main sermon or prayer hall, carrying candles, incense and lotus flowers.

Establishments such as schools and government offices will also fly yellow Buddhist flags for the day.

Because it is a holy day, shops, bars and restaurants are barred from selling alcohol for 24 hours from midnight on Thursday all through Friday to just after midnight on Saturday.

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