There are several Buddhist days that are of importance in the Thai year. Makha Bucha Day is one of these which occurs in February or March. In 2018 it is on March 1 and 2019 it is on March 21.
The Buddhist calendar is a lunar one, and the third lunar month is known in the Thai as Makha (from the Pali word Māgha); Bucha is also a Thai word (from the Pali word Pūjā), meaning “to venerate” or “to honor”. As such, Makha Bucha Day is to honor the Buddha and his teachings which he delivered on the full moon day of the third lunar month.
45 years before the Buddhist era, on the full moon day of the 3rd lunar month, and exactly 9 full months after Lord Buddha achieved Enlightenment, 4 special things happened:
1) 1,250 Sangha followers, came to see the Lord Buddha at Wat Veḷuvana in Northern India, without any schedule.
2) All of them were “Arhantas’, the Enlightened One, and all of them were ordained by the Buddha himself.
3) The Buddha gave an important teaching to the followers on the principles of the Buddhism, called “The Ovadhapatimokha”. Those principles are: To cease from all evil; to do what is good; to cleanse one’s mind.
4) It was a full moon day which made it as special day to start with.
On the same day 44 years later another important event happened. It was this day that the Buddha decided to ‘Parinibbhana’, nirvana, leave the mind from the body (or die) which he did 3 months after that day on the full moon day of the six lunar month (This day is known as ‘Visakha Bucha Day’).
As a Buddhist country Makha Bucha days is an important day in the Thai calendar and is respected in a number of ways.
In Thailand people observe the following activities if Makha Bucha day:
1) Make merit by going to temples for special observances and join in the other Buddhist activities.
2) Keeping the five precepts, including abstinence from alcoholic drinks (this is why most bars are closed) and all kinds of immoral acts.
3) Offer food to the monks and novices (in the alm bowl).
4) Observe the eight precepts, practice of meditation and mental discipline, stay in the temple, wearing white robes, for a number of days.
5) Attend an evening Candle Light Procession around the Ubosot (Ordination Hall). Most temples will be holding this.
To find out more about Buddhism and Thai holidays why not come on a Bangkok Tour with Expique