Candle Festival in Thailand

Over the recent long holiday weekend in Thailand, we celebrated two important Buddhist holidays: Asarnha Bucha and Khao Phansa. The first takes place on the full moon day of the eighth lunar month. It commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon to his first five disciples. On this day people celebrate the Triple Gem. This represents the Buddha, his teaching and his disciples. The following day is the start of the three month long Buddhist Rains Retreat. In English it is sometimes called “Buddhist Lent” as some people vow to give up things such as alcohol or meat during this period.

Over the past few days, there have been many parades around the Kingdom of Thailand of large candles that are given to monks at the temples. The candles are large enough to stay alight for the entire Buddhist Rains Retreat. However, some are much larger than others and certainly more beautifully decorated. The best of these can be seen in the annual parades in cities in Isaan such as at Ubon Ratchathani. In Samut Prakan, we didn’t have such spectacular wax carvings, but we did have some candle processions on boats.

I think nearly every local community and temple had their own candle processions. Though in some temples local people went on their own to offer food and candles to the monks. In the picture above, local people are taking part in a procession around the main ordination hall three times in a clockwise direction. They then went inside to offer the candles, robes and dried food to the monks. I think I must have taken pictures at least half a dozen different candle parades for our online news magazine for Samut Prakan Province. For most of these events I posted live moblogs over at with pictures taken from my iPhone.

The next big festival in Thailand for us is for the Queen’s Birthday on 12th August. Expect to see early morning alms giving to hundreds of monks and fireworks in the evening. It is also a long weekend this year from 12-15 August 2010. You can read all about the latest news and events for Thailand by following me on Twitter @RichardBarrow.

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