Makha Bucha Day (tuesday 19th of February,2019)

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Makha Bucha Day is another important Buddhist day. Like other Buddhist festivals, it is significantly related to the Triple Gems – the Buddha, the Dharma his teachings, and the Sangha his disciples.

“Makha” means the third lunar month, and “Bucha” means to honor. So Makha Bucha Day is on the full-moon day of the third lunar month, usually in February, designated to honor the Buddha, his teachings and his followers. In 2019 it falls on Tuesday 19th of February, and is a public holiday in Thailand. It is, therefore, another occasion when devout Buddhists engage themselves in special merit-makings and spiritual activities in order to discipline and purify their mind.

The day is religiously significant because it marks a very important event dating back to the time the Buddha was still living. Nine months after his Enlightenment he was residing at the Veluvana Bamboo Grove in Rajagaha City, India. On one very same day, four auspicious occasions took place. First, as many as 1,250 monks, who were the Buddha’s direct disciples, spontaneously and without any prior appointment, decided to return from their trips to propagate Buddhism, in order to pay respect to the Buddha. Second, it was a holy congregation because all the monks were Arahantas and ordained by the Buddha himself. Third, at this special congregation the Buddha delivered a discourse on “The Ovadhapatimokha” which significantly laid down the principles of Buddhism (i.e. to refrain from doing evil, to do only good deeds, and to always cleanse or purify one ‘s mind.) Fourth, this sacred assembly took place on an auspicious full-moon day. So Makha Bucha activities have been observed by devout Buddhists to commemorate this historic event.

The Makha Bucha merit-making activities start with food offering to monks in the morning. Later, many go to the temple to listen to sermons delivered by the monks and to join in other religious activities. They also observe the Five Precepts or the Eight Precepts. For some it is the time to do meditation or mental discipline as well. Then in the evening, led by the monks, people perform the “vian tian” ceremony (vian means to circle; tian is candles), whereby they join a procession of 3-round walking around the main sermon hall of the temple – with lit candles and incense sticks, and flowers in their hands. The three rounds are meant for to the Triple Gems, thus ending the activities of the Makha Bucha Day.

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