Saturday, May 18 is Visakha Bucha Day

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Banks and government offices closed Monday

Saturday, May 18, is one of the most venerated holidays on the Buddhist calendar: Visakha Bucha Day. Since the holiday falls on a Saturday, government offices, banks and many businesses will be closed on Monday, May 20. However, some bank branches in shopping malls may be open to cater to foreign exchange, and most exchange booths throughout the city will be open.

This Buddhist Holy Day marks the beginning of the Buddhist Era 2,557 years ago, and celebrates the miracle of the Buddha being born, reaching enlightenment, passing away, and achieving final release from the circle of rebirth, all on the same date.

Devout Buddhists participate in ceremonies at nearby temples, making merit in the morning by bringing alms to monks and listening to sermons. In the evening devotees will continue assembling at temples to conduct the “Wien Thien” ceremony, walking around sacred temple grounds three times holding candles, joss sticks and flowers honoring the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) and the Sangha (the Buddhist Monastic Order).

For this holiday, killing any kind of animal and drinking alcohol or intoxicating substances is forbidden for 3 days. Wats are to be adorned with lanterns, flowers and joss sticks as symbols of worship, and fireworks will be lit for three days to celebrate.

The law prohibits the sale of alcohol on Makha Bucha Day, Visakha Bucha Day, Asalaha Bucha Day and Buddhist Lent holidays; therefore all bars and entertainment venues close from midnight May 17 until midnight May 18.