On the full moon day of the sixth lunar month, Buddhists in Thailand celebrate the enlightenment of Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. It is this very same day that two other most important events in Buddhism are believed to have occurred—the birth of Buddha, 45 years before his enlightenment, and his passing away 35 years later.
As the center of the world Buddhism, Thailand has arranged special activities to celebrate the Day of Vesak this year as it marks 2,600 years of the Enlightenment of Buddha. The Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand has named this auspicious occasion “Buddhajayanti,” which means the celebration of Buddha’s victory over all sins and temptations by himself.
Buddha attained enlightenment by discovering the Four Noble Truths about suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path leading to the cessation of suffering. From its origin in the Indian sub-continent, Buddhism has spread to Thailand and prospered here until it is now regarded as the national religion, with the majority of Thais being Buddhists.
There are many Buddhist activities and celebrations every year in Thailand to pay respect to Buddha and remind Buddhists of his teachings. The Day of Vesak on the occasion of Buddhajayanti is a historic event celebrated nationwide by all sectors of the society since mid May 2012. The main activities taking place at Sanam Luang in Bangkok include merit-making and walks around Buddha’s relics or “Wien Thien.” The last walk on Vesak Day, which is on 4 June 2012, will be presided over by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn. Another grand Vesak celebration is taking place at Buddha Monthon or Buddhist Park in Nakhon Pathom province, where Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will attend a “Wien Thien” ceremony on 4 June at 4.30 pm.
The Buddhajayanti celebrations extend beyond the Day of Vesak. After 4 June, the International Buddhist Film Festival 2012 will be organized for the first time in Thailand at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld from 7-10 June 2012. The event features 15 films from 10 countries including Thailand, Japan, China, Korea, U.S.A. and Germany. The opening movie is “Prem Sanyas” or “The Light of Asia,” a 1925 silent movie about the life of Buddha and the origin of Buddhism.
The Day of Vesak on the occasion of Buddhajayanti marking 2,600 years of Buddha’s enlightenment is a once in a life time event. Buddhists should take this opportunity to support Buddhism, practice his teachings, and do good deeds as taught by Buddha, as well as by the founders of the world’s other religions.