Buddhist Lent begins this weekend with two of the most important religious days on the Thai calendar, Asalaha Bucha and Khao Pansaa, July 5 and 6.
Khao Pansaa marks the start of the monks’ rains retreat, during which they stay inside temple grounds so as not to trample crops during the rainy season. Candles are seen as a way to provide monks enlightenment during their prayers and candle parades are popular.
As press time, it appeared no candle parade this year, but each temple is allowed to hold new normal religious ceremonies on both days. The Wien Thein ceremony – walking three times around the temple while carrying a lit candle – will take place as usual after religious sermons finish on Asalaha Bucha Day.
The following morning, on Khao Pansaa, alms giving will also take place as usual.
The government has announced July 4, 5, 6, & 7 are holidays (Sat-Tues) to encourage Thais to travel.
As these are important Buddhist holidays, however, selling alcohol is banned on both days. This includes bars and restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores, department stores, and community retail stores. Those caught breaking the law can face up to six months in jail and fines up to 10,000 baht.
An amendment to the decree exempts hotels from the ban.