Visakha Puja Day

Visakha Bucha (or Visakha Puja) Day, also known as Buddha’s Day, is an annual public holiday observed traditionally by Buddhists all over the world especially in Southeast Asian and South Asian countries of Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. The festival commemorates the Birth, the Enlightenment of the Lord Buddha, and his entry into Nirvana or his Death, on the same date. This major Buddhist festival of the year is celebrated in different ways all over the world. The date varies according to the lunar calendars used in different countries. In Thailand it is always on the first full moon day. In 2019 the day falls on Saturday, 18th of May.

The Royal Ceremony takes place at the Royal Temple adjacent to the Grand Palace, and is presided over by H.M. the King, or his Royal Appointee, and attended by Members of the Royal Family both in the morning and the evening rites.

In celebrating this joyful Visakah, devotees will observe the Five Precepts or the Eight Precepts to train themselves in practicing morality, simplicity and humility. In the morning they assemble in local temples, or in Bangkok in various major temples as well, to offer food to the monks, take the Precepts, and sing in hyms in praise of the Holy Triple Gems: the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings), and the Sangha (his Disciples). The significance lies with the Buddha and his universal peace message to mankind. The devotees will also bring simple offerings of flowers, candles and joss-sticks, which symbolically serve to remind us that life too is transient, subject to decay and destruction. Monks will chant sacred hyms and recite verses uttered by the Buddha 25 centuries ago, to invoke peace and happiness for the people. Then the devotees will listen to Dharma talks given by the monks. It is an opportunity to reiterate our determination to lead better or noble lives, to develop our minds, to practice loving-kindness, and to bring peace and harmony to humanity.

Celebrating Visakah also means merit-making and alms giving to the unfortunate, humans and animals included. Some examples of these good deeds are: freeing caged birds and animals and fish, distributing food and gifts to the poor or the needy and to various charitable homes, and mass donating of blood at hospitals.

The festival concludes on the night of the full moon when the devotees join in the ceremony of circling 3 times a temple or chedi, with lighted candles and incense, and flowers in hand as a sign of respect to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. This particular rite is called “vian tian” in Thai. Observers and tourists are welcome to join in the procession of this beautiful candlelit night.

So, come join us celebrating Visakah! Come “vian tian” with us!