Asanha Bucha Day
When: Saturday, July 8th (observed: Monday, July 10th)
What is Asanha Bucha Day and Where did it Originate?
Asanha Bucha Day observes Buddha’s first sermon in the Deer Park in Benares, India. This is where Buddha revealed the Four Noble Truths to five ascetics (monks). The name Asanha Bucha is the Thai version of Asalha Puja that began in Benares, India.
What does it mean to the Thai people?
Thai people are among the most religious people in the world, so like all Buddha days during the year, they are taken very seriously, but this particular Buddha Day is one of the more important ones regarding good fortune throughout the year. Expect to see large wax candles and flowers offered to monks in place of food in the mornings. It has also become a popular time for young thai men enter monkhood.
When is it celebrated?
Asanha Bucha takes place during first full moon of the 8th lunar month according to the Thai lunar calendar. The significance of the full moon and Buddhism dates back to the birth of Buddha himself, who was born during a full moon.
I chose to attend a local ceremony at Wat Chang Khian, not far from where I was living in Chiang Mai at the time. Keep in mind that at just about any temple in Thailand, there will be some kind of ceremony and depending on how big the temple is and how many people it attracts, will determine the size of the ceremony. So, it really doesn’t matter where you find yourself, you can have the experience you desire, big or small, for this beautiful nighttime event. That said, the ceremonies are simple, and in my experience they start with monks chanting inside the main temple and as followers arrive they kneel and bow as instructed. During this time, monks are busy lighting large wax candles all over the temple grounds. Once the chanting ends the monks lead the followers, with lit candles, incense and flowers in hand with more chanting around the pagoda three times. And finally the monks continue chanting as they surround a large seated Buhhda, with there followers seated directly behind. Simple and yet quite beautiful, all the same.
After the ceremony you’ll see people lighting candles, kneeling and praying for good fortune. Thai’s also like to linger at the temple as they talk to friends and family as well as taking pictures all around the temple grounds.