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The Significance of Makha Bucha Day

Friday the 26th February 2021 is called Makha Bucha Day. 

It is the full moon day of the 3rd lunar month (called Makha) and is a national holiday, allowing the Thai people to attend ceremonies at temples (Bucha means to honor) and make merit.

On this day, it is believed that Buddha delivered his core teachings called Ovada Patimokkha, summarised as ‘to cease from all evil; to do good deeds; and to cleanse one’s mind.’

History says that 4 special things happened on the day:

  • It was a full moon.
  • 1,250 Sangha (monks) spontaneously gathered at the Veluvana Temple to see Buddha.
  • They were all ordained by Buddha himself.
  • All were Arahant (enlightened).
buddha among devotees enlightened

Interestingly, Makha Bucha day wasn’t observed in Thailand until the second half of the 19th century when King Mongkut started a Makha Bucha ceremony in his royal court. 

It remained a royal event until temples organized ceremonies nationwide which everyone could attend.

How is Makha Bucha Observed in Thailand?

Temples hold meditations where attendees wear white, sleep at the premises, and observe the 8 precepts. Some people observe the 5 precepts which include no alcohol consumption.

celebrating Makha Bucha

In the evening, silent candle light processions are held where the people walk around the Ubosot (Ordination Hall) clockwise three times, praying and holding flowers, incenses, and a candle. You will find this at Wat Jed Yod in Chiang Mai.

many monks praying with candles

In 2006, the government titled Makha Bucha the ‘Day of Pure Love and Gratitude.’ It was a cultural campaign to reduce the rate of teenage virginity loss on Valentine’s day, which falls on the same month as Makha Bucha.