Last weekend, parades filled the streets and local temples were filled with worshipers as Thailand celebrated two major Buddhist holidays, Asalaha Bucha Day and Khao Pansaa.
Tradition, candles highlight double Buddhist holiday celebration
The Pattaya area celebrated summer’s double Buddhist holiday, partaking in traditional ceremony for Asalaha Bucha Day then lighting up candles for Buddhist Lent.
From Naklua’s Sanctuary of Truth to South Pattaya’s Chaimongkol Temple and beyond, Thais queued up to donate rice, dried food and robes to monks and recite prayers. Many took part in triple circumambulations of the Buddhist relics, an age-old tradition.
Revered monks prepare for the Khao Pansaa festivities at Wat Thamsamakhee.
Asalaha Bucha Day marks the anniversary of Lord Buddha’s first sermon. That sermon concerned the Four Noble Truths presented to Buddha’s first five disciples in the forest of Esipatana Marukatayawan, in the Paranasi District in India. It set in motion the Wheel of Dharma.
Residents came to temples, such as Nong Or, early Aug. 2 to hear sermons while respectfully dressed couples made merit and families offered alms of monks’ necessities.
Faithful Buddhists make merit by pouring candle wax into molds to make Lent candles on Asalaha Bucha day at Wat Nong Or.
The following day, at Phra Yai Temple Pratamnak Hill, more than 100 Thais and foreigners participated in a Buddhist Lent candle parade. Most of the marchers dressed in white performed the Wien Thien ceremony, carrying the light around the temple grounds three times before donating necessities, flowers and candles to monks.
Entertainment districts closed for the double holiday, with only a few restaurants officially open.
The merit making continued Aug. 4 at Thamsamakhee Temple, where neighbors cooked meat and dessert to offer to monks for Khao Pansaa, the start of Buddhist Lent. More than 500 people attended, with many donating candles and necessities.
Revered monks begin the Wien Thien ceremony, carrying lighted candles three times around Wat Phra Yai.
Buddhist monks and nuns walk down the stairs to join in candle parade at Wat Phra Yai.
Visitors still wander through Walking Street even though all bars and entertainment venues are closed on Khao Pansaa.
Local folks donate money for the restoration of Wat Nong Or.
Thousands of people take part in the Wien Thien ceremony at Wat Phra Yai.
Hundreds of worshipers gather to pray and listen to sermons at Wat Thamsamakhee during Khao Pansaa.