By sunrise or by candlelight, Pattaya celebrates Makha Bucha Day

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Devout Buddhists listen intently to a sermon at Wat Khaosaothong in Khao Noy, one of many temples where pilgrims congregated to worship and make merit Monday, Feb. 22. By the glow of early morning sunshine or evening candlelight, Pattaya-area Buddhists flocked to temples across the east to make merit on Makha Bucha Day.

By the glow of early morning sunshine or evening candlelight, Pattaya-area Buddhists flocked to temples across the east to make merit on Makha Bucha Day.

Temples throughout the region saw worshippers present offerings of dried foods and desserts to monks, light candles and incense, lay flowers on statues of Lord Buddha, and listen to sermons and meditate on one of the holiest Buddhist holidays of the year.

Devout Buddhists listen intently to a sermon at Wat Khaosaothong in Khao Noy, one of many temples where pilgrims congregated to worship and make merit Monday, Feb. 22. By the glow of early morning sunshine or evening candlelight, Pattaya-area Buddhists flocked to temples across the east to make merit on Makha Bucha Day.

Events got underway early at big temples like Wat Khaosaothong on Soi Khao Noi as families, couples and friends joined to make merit. Chaimongkol, Boonkanchanaram, Boonsampan, Nong Yai, Thamsamakee and Nong-Or temples buzzed all day until night fell, leading to the traditional “wien tien” candlelight processions.

Makha Bucha Day, considered Buddhist “All Saints Day,” commemorates the occasion when 1,250 disciples traveled to meet with Lord Buddha with no prearranged agreement at Weluwan Mahawiharn Temple in the area of Rachakhryha, India.

The Big Buddha on Pratamnak Hill is known as the most respected Buddha monument in Pattaya where most locals come to pray and worship.

While a holy day, Makha Bucha is also an occasion for temple fairs, with big churches opening their grounds to vendors selling food and locally made items. For a day, temples became Pattaya’s center of activity, as all the city’s bars and entertainment venues were closed and the sale of alcohol prohibited.

Many people came to make merit at Wat Khaosaothong in Khao Noy.

Others shied away from the colored lights and crowds to purify themselves through meditation on the Khao Yai Temple on Khao Cheechan, or Big Buddha Hill.

But it was the “wien tien” activity, in which devotees carry candles as they circle their temples three times, that drew the biggest crowds.

Once taking part in the three rounds of the procession, it indicates that there’s no turning back on previous sins. People also believe that by taking part in such activities, they will be forgiven for many things, their minds will be purified and they will have a prosperous year ahead.

Merit making activities were well-attended at Wat Thamsamakee on Sukhumvit Road.

Makha Bucha Day also was a welcome day off for Buddhists and non-believers alike. The day gained official recognition in Thailand during the reign of King Rama IV and became a nationally observed day with all government institutions closing down and observing the rituals associated with Buddhist commandments.

Disseminating Lord Buddha’s teachings and the journey to meet with him on the 15th night of the third lunar month are part of the historical events that include the sermons and truths spoken by the Buddha.

The “wien tien” activity, in which devotees carry candles as they circle their temples three times, that drew the biggest crowds, including here at Wat Chaimongkol in South Pattaya.

Having good intentions, not harming others, avoiding evil actions and making the heart and mind pure in thought were among the truths spoken by Buddha. Additionally, other truths spoken by the Buddha cautioned individual restraint in all that attracts one’s attention, to include desiring possessions belonging to others, and exploiting others for personal gain.

Releasing a caged bird whilst praying to Buddha is a way to be released from sins.

Before departing, Buddha also referred to the people’s interest in making merit, gaining self-esteem and a comfortable reassurance that moral integrity exists. More importantly, having faith in the Triple Gems, or “Phraratanatrai”, was illustrated by emphasizing the importance of avoiding drunken, irresponsible and immoral behavior, and maintaining focus on supporting loved ones while being content in one’s existence with friends and without selfish greed.

Many food stalls were located throughout the grounds of Wat Chaimongkol and business was great.

The money trees at Wat Chaimongkol were filled with donations as thousands of worshippers visited the temple to make merit.

Offerings of candles, flowers and incense are made to deities to make merit at Wat Chaimongkol.

The Payanak (mythical serpent) staircase case at Pratamnak Hill was packed with Buddhist pilgrims during the evening of Makha Bucha.

Hundreds of local residents partake in the meditation ceremony at Big Buddha Hill to purify their minds.

By sunrise or by candlelight, Pattaya celebrates Makha Bucha Day

PMTV