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.