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Buddhist Festivals in Thailand

As you would expect in this devout Buddhist country, there are many festivals associated with Buddhism as well as Buddhist teachings.

Whilst each Wat will have its own festivals throughout the year, there are also countrywide Buddhist Religious Festivals and events that are applicable to all areas of Buddhist faith and teachings. This guide lists the most important Buddhist religious festivals in Thailand.

Makha Bucha

This is an important Buddhist holy day which is in celebration of the time when 1250 of the Lord Buddha's disciples gathered to hear him preach.

The importance of this occasion is highlighted by ceremonies that are held during the day at all of Thailand's temples - Wats.

Also, during the night, candlelit processions are normally staged at monastery chapels.

The Festival is on 9th February 2009 and is a good event/festival with which to become more acquainted with the Buddhist teachings and way of life.

Visakha Bucha

This Buddhist festival celebrates the birth, the enlightenment and the death of Gautama Buddha. For many, this will most certainly be the holy of days in the Buddhist religious calendar.

It is a different day each year, but takes place in May - the sixth lunar month. Candlelit processions will take place in the evening at most Temples.

Asahna Bucha

This festival is in Commemoration of the first sermon of Buddha. Its importance is highlighted by celebrations at temples - Wats - with the giving of sermons and is obviously a day for giving donations to the Temple.

This festival is held during eighth lunar month, on the fifteenth day.

Khao Phansa (Vassa)

Also known as the Rains Retreat festival and heralds the start of Buddhist Lent. It takes place on the day after the preceding festival of Asalha Puja.

It is a day of great importance for young men for it is the day when they can become lay monks. It period is normally for three months, and is a normal way in which young men can earn merit in the eyes of their family and friends.

Later - on the last day of the Buddhist Lent, there follows the major Buddhist festivals of Wan Awk Pansa and Kathina.

Wan Awk Pansa

This festival brings to a close, the Buddhist Lent period - the last day of the Buddhist lent. Boats made of banana wood or bamboo are traditionally decorated with flowers, lamps and lanterns.

The boats are loaded offerings which include a range of sticky rice sweets - normally wrapped in the leaves of bananas. The boats are sent off into the water in the evening. It is quite a colourful and emotive event.

Kathina Festival

Like the Wan Awk Pansa festival, it is a special ceremony which marks the end of the Buddhist Lent. It is highlighted by the offering of robes and other presents to monasteries. It ends in a public feast.

There will be a display gifts and money on trees at monasteries. A special gift - a great robe - the mahakathina which should have been made during the course of a single evening, from the basic spinning of the yarn, to being woven and then stitched to form the robe. It is normally carried out by a select number of people.

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