This important day on the Thailand calendar commemorates two separate events that occurred on the same date 45 years apart, during the Buddha’s lifetime 2,500 years ago.
Makha Bucha Day (วันมาฆบูชา) is a Buddhist holiday, which takes place annually on the night of the full moon during the third lunar month of the year which occurs on Tuesday, 19th of February. “Makha” is the Pali word for the third Lunar month, while “bucha” means to honour or to venerate. Since Makha Bucha is based on the lunar calendar, the date varies from year to year. Makha Bucha Day is a day of religious observation in Thailand, honouring two important events in the Buddhist Calendar.
The first event is the gathering of more than 1250 monks ahead of their ordainment by Buddha. The second related event revolves around Buddha’s life lessons, sermons which he gave a few days before his death. Both events happened on the day of the full moon in the Makha month, according to the Buddhist calendar, the third lunar month. These two events are a key to the growth of Buddhism in Thailand and are incorporated as part and parcel of Thai’s religious beliefs. Thailand started celebrating Makha Bucha Day during the reign of King Rama IV, around 150 years ago. King Rama IV felt that Buddhist teachings were very important, recognising that Makha Bucha was one of the most remarkable events in Buddhist history. Observed Activities Many temples, religious and mediation centres welcome both Buddhist Thais and foreigners who would like to enter into mediation sessions and observation activities.
‘‘ท�ำบุญ tam-bun’: Making merit by going to temples for special observances, listening to Dhamma preaching, giving donations and other activities including acts of merit such as freeing fish and birds . ‘รับศีล ráp sĕen’: Keeping the Five Precepts, including abstinence from alcohol and immoral acts, listening to teachings of Buddhism and the practice of meditation (nâng sà-maa-tí นั่งสมาธิ)
‘ตักบาตร dtàk bàat’: Offering food to the monks and novices.
‘เวียนเทียน wain tain: Monks and other believers of the Buddhist philosophy hold candlelit processions with a sacred thread in a procession around the temple. For visitors to Thailand, “Makha Bucha Day” presents a great opportunity to observe first-hand the Thais’ religious practices and the local lifestyle. On Makha Bucha Day, consumption of alcohol is not only considered a religious violation but also a civil offence with significant penalties available.