Eastern residents commemorated the birth, death and enlightenment of Lord Buddha on Thailand’s holiest of holidays, Visakha Bucha Day.
Religious ceremonies began early and went into the night at temples in Pattaya, Sattahip and Chonburi. Food and desserts were offered to monks who in turn chanted, prayed and taught Dharma.
Chaimongkol Temple was typical of most area holy places, hosting a fair with booths selling religious materials and food. The temple also used the occasion to begin casting a new Buddha statue.
Though the actual practice differs from temple to temple, the ultimate goal of Visakha Bucha Day is to remind all Buddhists of the Buddha’s teachings and that life is precious. Therefore, one must never stop doing good deeds, as it is the only way toward attaining enlightenment.
Worshippers finished their day with the traditional meditative procession clockwise three times around the temple. Believers then laid flowers and candles to pay respect to the Three Gems of Buddhism: the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha.
In Sattahip, 4,000 sailors and conscripts assembled to mediate at the Naval Recruit Training Center.
Center Commander, Capt. Tadawut Tadpitakkul led the May 10 gathering, which saw monks from local temples lead the meditation and teaching Dharma lessons as well.
The sailors also had the opportunity to pray for blessings and protection from the spirits while paying respects to King Rama X.
Visakha Bucha means the worship of the Buddha on the day of the full moon in the sixth lunar month, which usually falls in May. It marks 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 this year 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.
It was Sri Lanka that proposed to UNESCO on Dec. 15, 1999 that Visakha Bucha Day be recognized as the most important memorial day in Buddhism. Thailand, which is the permanent location of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, was chosen to always host and celebrate this day.
As is the custom on major Buddhist holidays, bars in Pattaya were closed and the selling of alcohol was prohibited.