HM the King leads sacred Buddhist observances on Visakha Bucha Day

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His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun presides over the religious ceremony at Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram in the Grand Palace to commemorate Visakha Bucha Day. Marking the triple occasion of the birth of Buddha, the day of his enlightenment, and his ascension to Nirvana, Visakha Bucha Day, celebrated this year on Tuesday May 29, is one of the three holiest days on the Buddhist calendar. (Pool Photo via AP)
His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun presides over the religious ceremony at Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram in the Grand Palace to commemorate Visakha Bucha Day. Marking the triple occasion of the birth of Buddha, the day of his enlightenment, and his ascension to Nirvana, Visakha Bucha Day, celebrated this year on Tuesday May 29, is one of the three holiest days on the Buddhist calendar. (Pool Photo via AP)

Visakha Bucha Day marked by prayer and merit-making

Pattaya residents crowded temples to mark the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha on Visakha Bucha Day, the most important memorial day in Budhism.

Believers began the day early, taking children and relatives to make merit at local temples. Food and desserts were given as offerings to monks, who returned the favor by teaching Dharma. Many elderly worshippers followed tradition in wearing white and eating only vegetarian meals on the holiest of Buddhist holidays.

Local temples held merit-making ceremonies while at other places, such as Chai­mongkol Temple in South Pattaya, people donated items to be consumed in the monks’ morning meal. Others gave cash in envelopes as well as baskets filled with necessities. Most attending services dressed in white to demonstrate purity.

But holiday activities didn’t end at the temple gate. Many families were seen on beaches and in local parks releasing birds, fish, snails and other living beings that they believe to be ‘trapped’. Doing so also generates good karma for those making merit.

As the sun fell, Buddhists lit candles and marched in the traditional “wien tien” procession around temple halls. Others engaged in meditation after laying flower garlands on Buddha images.

For non-Buddhists, Pattaya seemed as quiet as the temples during meditation. All bars were closed and alcohol could not be sold from midnight to midnight.

Marking the triple occasion of the birth of Buddha, the day of his enlightenment and his ascension to Nirvana, Visakha Bucha Day is one of the three holiest days on the Buddhist calendar and previously was designated by USESCO as “World Peace Day.” The educational, scientific and cultural organization’s proclamation cited Buddhism’s teaching of humanity, mercy and tolerance as the reasons for the designation.

A Buddhist monk sprinkles holy water on the faithful at Wat Suthawat in Nongprue.
A Buddhist monk sprinkles holy water on the faithful at Wat Suthawat in Nongprue.
Locals present their ‘Sangkatan’ offerings of food and necessary items to a Buddhist monk.
Locals present their ‘Sangkatan’ offerings of food and necessary items to a Buddhist monk.
A foreign resident pays his respects to Lord Buddha.
A foreign resident pays his respects to Lord Buddha.
Mother and child make merit by offering necessities to the monks.
Mother and child make merit by offering necessities to the monks.
A mother leads her daughters in giving their offerings of food to the Buddhist monks.
A mother leads her daughters in giving their offerings of food to the Buddhist monks.
Pattaya residents crowded local temples to mark the most important day in Buddhism.
Pattaya residents crowded local temples to mark the most important day in Buddhism.
A lady donates funds to the temple.
A lady donates funds to the temple.
People light their candles and joss sticks at the eternal lantern.
People light their candles and joss sticks at the eternal lantern.
The aura of the holy chapel is filled with the chanting of Buddhist monks.
The aura of the holy chapel is filled with the chanting of Buddhist monks.
Devotees pray while monks chant from the Holy Scriptures.
Devotees pray while monks chant from the Holy Scriptures.
People from all walks of life join in the candle light procession.
People from all walks of life join in the candle light procession.
Thais and foreigners show their respect for Buddhism by joining in traditional rituals.
Thais and foreigners show their respect for Buddhism by joining in traditional rituals.
The whole family joins in the Wien Thien ‘Candle light’ procession around the monastery.
The whole family joins in the Wien Thien ‘Candle light’ procession around the monastery.