Today was a religious holiday for everyone in Thailand. Like other Buddhist holidays, Makha Bucha Day doesn’t happen on the same date every year. It is all to do with the phases of the moon. This holiday is held on the full moon of the third lunar month (usually end of February or early March).
This day marks four events that took place during Lord Buddha’s lifetime, namely:
* 1250 Buddhist monks from different places came to pay homage to Lord Buddha, each of his own initiative and without prior notification or appointment.
* all of them were enlightened monks
* all of them had been individually ordained by Lord Buddha himself
* they assembled on the full moon day of the third lunar month.
On this day, Thai people go to their local temple in the morning to make merit, listen to sermons and also to take part in a candle-lit procession around the chapel. However, judging by the number of people in the shopping malls I don’t think going to the local temple is as important as it was in the past. A recent survey suggested 60-70 per cent of Thai families do not visit temples. Thai young people, for instance, are far more interested in St Valentine’s Day than Makha Bucha Day. To try and counteract that, The Ministry of Culture have decided, in their wisdom, that what is needed here is some “Dhamma Rap”!
INTERESTING FACTS: According to the Kasikorn Research Centre, Thai people spend about 3.3 billion baht annually on making merit and giving donations to Buddhist monks. Surprisingly, 1.1 billion baht was spent each year in the north-east, 760 million in the greater Bangkok area, 750 million in the central plains, 550 million in the north and 160 million in the south.