Candles replaced neon for a day in Pattaya as area Buddhists celebrated Makha Bucha Day.
Believers turned out at local temples throughout the area to conduct ceremonies that have been performed throughout Buddhist history and make merit for themselves and their families.
The morning ceremonies were filled with people presenting offerings to monks and listening to monks preach dharma. Observances continued into the evening, with many performing the “wien tien” processions in which they light candles and circle the temple’s sermon hall three times, paying homage to Buddha, dharma and the Sangha.
Taking part in the procession indicates that there’s no turning back to previous sins. People also believe that by taking part in the parade, they will be forgiven for many things, their minds will be purified and they will have a prosperous year ahead.
At Sutthawat Temple, Nongprue Deputy Mayor Anak Pattanangam led the delegation of sub-district councilors, civil servants and students from the temple’s preschool to make merit.
They prayed, paid respects to the images of Buddha and listened to the sermon by Abbot Wichai Thitanamo who explained why Makha Bucha Day is one of the three most-important religious holidays on the calendar.
Considered Buddhism’s “All Saints Day,” Makha Bucha commemorates the occasion when 1,250 disciples traveled to meet with Lord Buddha with no prearranged agreement at Weluwan Mahawiharn Temple near Rachakhryha, India.
While a holy day, Makha Bucha also is 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 neon-lit bars and entertainment venues are closed and the sale of alcohol prohibited.
The day gained official recognition in Thailand during the reign of King Rama IV and became a nationally observed holiday with all government institutions closing down and observing the rituals associated with Buddhist commandments.
Disseminating Buddha’s teachings and disciples’ journey to meet with him on the 15th night of the third lunar month are part of the historical events that include the sermons.
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 Buddha cautioned individual restraint in all that attracts one’s attention, to include desiring possessions belonging to others, and exploiting others for personal gain.
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” (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.