Pattaya marks Visakha Bucha Day from dawn through dusk

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Pattaya-area Buddhists circle Wat Nong Or, performing the Wien Thien ceremony on Visakha Bucha Day May 13.  Throughout the kingdom, this most holy of holidays on the Buddhist calendar marks the triple occasion of the birth of Buddha, the day of his enlightenment and his ascension to Nirvana.

Pattaya-area Buddhists cast aside frivolity for reverence as they celebrated Visakha Bucha Day from morning ‘til night.

Believers began showing up to Chaimongkol, Suttiphawan, Suttawas, Bunyakanjanaram, and Krathungthong temples early, offering breakfast to monks to make merit and stayed throughout the day, capping the holiday with the traditional “wien thien” procession ceremony after dark.

Each year, Visakha Bucha Day falls on the full moon day of the 6th lunar month according to the Thai Lunar calendar, which usually falls in May or June.  This year the holy day fell on Tuesday, May 13.

Pattaya-area Buddhists circle Wat Nong Or, performing the Wien Thien ceremony on Visakha Bucha Day May 13.  Throughout the kingdom, this most holy of holidays on the Buddhist calendar marks the triple occasion of the birth of Buddha, the day of his enlightenment and his ascension to Nirvana. Pattaya-area Buddhists circle Wat Nong Or, performing the Wien Thien ceremony on Visakha Bucha Day May 13.  Throughout the kingdom, this most holy of holidays on the Buddhist calendar marks the triple occasion of the birth of Buddha, the day of his enlightenment and his ascension to Nirvana (Photo by Thanawat Suansuk).

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.

Citizens make merit, asking for prosperity for their family.Citizens make merit, asking for prosperity for their family.

In Pattaya, bars were closed throughout the area, frustrating non-Buddhist tourists and venue owners offering evening entertainment. Instead, people went to places like Pa Suttiphawan Temple for the “wien thien” procession led by Abbot Pisanu Nittithamumo, who also offered blessings and poured holy water on those giving alms to monks. Worshippers made merit, meditated as a form of worship to Lord Buddha, studied dharma, and listened to monks telling of the gratitude, intellect and purity of Lord Gautama Buddha.

Monks pray before dining.Monks pray before dining.

With its downtown location, Chaimongkol Temple attracted the largest crowds due to the casting of gold for a new Buddha statue. Abbot Punya Rattanaporn led the ceremony with Education Ministry advisor Chanyuth Hengtrakul and Surat “Mike” Mekavarakul of the Mike Group attending.

Alms offerings of meat and sweets were made at Suttawas Temple while at wien thien ceremonies where held at Bunyakanjanaram and Krathungthong temples, led by their respective abbots, Pladsuttassana Suthammo and Samai Kalyano. Even foreigners attended the ceremonies, to pay their respects to Thailand’s national religion.

Abbot of Wat Suttawas and Chief of the Banglamung Monk Committee, Phra Kru Pisan Punyaphiwat preaches the dharma.Abbot of Wat Suttawas and Chief of the Banglamung Monk Committee, Phra Kru Pisan Punyaphiwat preaches the dharma.

In Chonburi, Gov. Khomsan Ekachai and Deputy Gov. Pongsak Preechawit led government workers, police and students in a ceremony offering alms at province headquarters. Followers listened to sermons, studied dharma, and marched in a wien thien ceremony around the Sarira or Buddha relics.

In Sattahip, Royal Thai Navy’s Rerngsith Bunsongpraserth, commander of the Sattahip Naval Base, led the line of wien thien participants as he held candles and walked three times around the grounds of Sattahip Temple. About 500 people listened as Abbot Vibun Thammban blessed attendees for prosperity.

“Visakha Bucha Day is a very important day for Buddhists like us since this is the day that Lord Buddha was born, enlightened and died,” Rerngsith said. “It is a miracle. There are precious teachings that can be practiced and implement for solving day-to-day problems.”

Chonburi Governor Khomsan Ekachai presents alms to monks on Visakha Bucha Day at Chonburi Provincial Hall.Chonburi Governor Khomsan Ekachai presents alms to monks on Visakha Bucha Day at Chonburi Provincial Hall.

Chanyuth Hengtrakul (left), advisor to the Ministry of Education, accepts a Dr. Jivaka Kumar Bhacca statuette from Phra Punya Rattanaporn, abbot of Wat Chaimongkol Phra Aaramluang.Chanyuth Hengtrakul (left), advisor to the Ministry of Education, accepts a Dr. Jivaka Kumar Bhacca statuette from Phra Punya Rattanaporn, abbot of Wat Chaimongkol Phra Aaramluang.

Supranee Huasoon prepares items to present to monks.Supranee Huasoon prepares items to present to monks.

Citizens receive gifts from Phra Pladsuttassana Suthammo, abbot of Wat Bunyakanjanaram (middle).Citizens receive gifts from Phra Pladsuttassana Suthammo, abbot of Wat Bunyakanjanaram (middle).

Buddhists offer alms during the tak bat ceremony in the morning.Buddhists offer alms during the tak bat ceremony in the morning.

Citizens listen to sermons and receive blessings from monks.Citizens listen to sermons and receive blessings from monks.

Releasing birds is a form of merit, giving life to animals or opening doors of silver and gold, increasing luck and bringing happiness and prosperity, plus escaping all that is evil.Releasing birds is a form of merit, giving life to animals or opening doors of silver and gold, increasing luck and bringing happiness and prosperity, plus escaping all that is evil.

A full moon on Visakha Bucha Day brightens the night sky.A full moon on Visakha Bucha Day brightens the night sky.

Monks from Wat Bunsamphan, Soi Khao Noi, lead citizens in the Wien Thien around the temple.Monks from Wat Bunsamphan, Soi Khao Noi, lead citizens in the Wien Thien around the temple.

Many people attend the Visakha Bucha Day ceremonies at Wat Bunsamphan.Many people attend the Visakha Bucha Day ceremonies at Wat Bunsamphan.

N’Namwan learns about the Wien Thien ceremony from her parents.N’Namwan learns about the Wien Thien ceremony from her parents.

N’Imjai learns how to place candles in the prayer area after completing her 3 Wien Thien rounds.N’Imjai learns how to place candles in the prayer area after completing her 3 Wien Thien rounds.

Citizens arrive for the Wien Thien ceremony in front of Wat Bunsamphan’s sermon hall, Soi Khao Noi.Citizens arrive for the Wien Thien ceremony in front of Wat Bunsamphan’s sermon hall, Soi Khao Noi.

Phra Khru Vimol Thammakit, abbot of Wat Chonglom Naklua, and monks lead the Wien Thien walk.Phra Khru Vimol Thammakit, abbot of Wat Chonglom Naklua, and monks lead the Wien Thien walk.

Pattaya government officials join the festivities.Pattaya government officials join the festivities.

N’ Preaw and Mom Sri perform the Wien Thien ceremony, walking 3 times around the temple, as mother wants to teach her child about this important day in Buddhism.N’ Preaw and Mom Sri perform the Wien Thien ceremony, walking 3 times around the temple, as mother wants to teach her child about this important day in Buddhism.

Naval officers and citizens walk the Wien Thien around Wat Sattahip.Naval officers and citizens walk the Wien Thien around Wat Sattahip.

Bars were closed on Walking Street for Visakha Bucha Day.Bars were closed on Walking Street for Visakha Bucha Day.

Walking Street was unusually quiet.Walking Street was unusually quiet.