Sawaddee torn chao (good morning) people!
Let’s take this opportunity to know more about our Buddhist holidays.
As a Buddhist-dominating country, Thailand has taken so much influenced from the religion, including our calendar era and three annual religious-related holidays, which mean no operations at government offices and banks. A quick good-to-know fact about how we number our year: According to Buddhist calendar, it’s 2559 BE (Buddhist Era) here as it is 2016 in Gregorian calendar. A 543-year difference.Buddhist holidays are marked by special occurrences in the Buddha’s era and according to lunar calendar.
Starting with Magha Puja, on the full-moon day of the third month (normally falls in February). There were four auspicious occasions on the day—1,250 monks came to see the Buddha without being summoned; all of them were enlightened ones; all were ordained by the Buddha himself; and the day was a full-moon day.
Vesak (Visakha Bucha in Thai) is the biggest celebration. The full-moon day of the sixth month (normally falls in May) marks Buddha’s birthday, which is also believed to be his enlightenment and nirvana day.
Asalha Puja (Asalha Bucha in Thai) marks the first teaching of Buddha to his five (later all enlightened) first monks on the full-moon day of the eighth month (normally falls in July). The day after Asalha Puja is Buddhist Lent Day (Wan Kao Pansa in Thai), when all the monks have to stay in a temple and not traveling for three months, thus people traditionally bring candles and donations to temples as well as new robes for the monks.
Generally on these days, buddhists gather and make merits at the temple. On top of merit making, there’s also a practice of circumambulation, which people walk around an important, respectable shrines or building, clockwise, while also praying. This happens in the evening.
Other traditional practices include a big alms-giving at the end of the three-month lent, in addition to regular alms-giving.
So we’d recommend you check out at temple in these big holidays if you happen to stay in Bangkok on the day.