During the full moon of this month we celebrate the religious holiday of Asarnha Bucha Day. The following day marks the start of the Rains Retreat which is sometimes referred to as the Buddhist Lent. It lasts for about three months. This year it runs from 8th July to 4th October 2009. Most schools and organizations around Thailand organize a Candle Parade to their local temple. The candle is usually about two meters tall and is meant to stay alight for the full three months of the Rains Retreat. During this period the monks are not allowed to wander or leave their temples. It is a time for study and meditation.
Over the next few days there will be quite a few parades through the town as students head towards their local temple to present the monks with a Lent Candle and other essential items. Usually these are led by the school band so you hear them coming from afar. Our school bussed the students to a temple further away as we have too many schools in our area. Once there we then took part in a wien tien which is a procession around the ordination chapel three times in a clockwise direction. This was led by the school band and the Lent Candle. Following behind were about 250 students.
After the procession, we all went into the main sala where nine monks were waiting for us. The basic essentials, the Lent Candle and also over 100,000 baht in money was then offered to the monks and the temple. There was then some chanting and a sermon from the abbot. Waiting in the wings were a couple dozen students from another school. At popular temples you often have to wait your turn. The Rains Retreat is not until next week but as the government made Monday a holiday as well, we now have a five day weekend. I believe they did this to help stimulate the economy by encouraging people to travel during the long holiday.