CEREMONIES AND CELEBRATIONS

New Year's Eve and Day

Makha Bucha

Makha Bucha Day is observed on the full moon of the third lunar month, which is usually the end of February or early March.

Makha Bucha Day commemorates a day when 1,250 monks, all from different places and on their own initiative, spontaneously came to pay homage to the Buddha and receive the first sermon of Lord Buddha following His Enlightment.

In Pali, Makha is the name of the third lunar month, and Bucha means "to venerate." On this day, Thai Buddhists gather at sunset in their local temples to participate in candlelight processions called Wian Tian. Ceremonies express appreciation for the order of monks founded by the Buddha and for the Three Jewels -- the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha.

Songkran Festival

Songkran marks the Thai and Laotian New Year and is observed by performing many auspicious acts, including showing respect to monks, elders, and others by pouring fragrant water over their hands. Buddhist temples are visited where food is offered to the monks and chanting or prayers are recited.

Fragrant water is also used in cleansing and refreshing Buddha images at temples and at home.

Sand is carried back to the temple, replenishing what was carried away on the soles of the feet throughout the year, to be sculpted into stupa-shaped forms and decorated with colorful flags, essentially restoring the grounds of the temple.

These acts of respect performed on Songkran or New Year's Day are believed to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year.

Visakha Bucha

Visakha Bucha falls on the full moon of the sixth month of the lunar year (around the middle of May on the international calendar).

It is one of the most important days for Buddhists because on this day the Lord Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, and died. All three of these significant events fell on the same day.

Visakha Bucha is usually celebrated with a public sermon during the day and a candle lit procession to pay respect to the Lord Buddha during the night.

Asalha Bucha

Asalha is the eighth lunar month of the old Indian calendar which usually falls in July. The main historical event this festival commemorates is the Buddha delivering his first discourse

The first discourse is of great significance. Not only was it the first structured teaching given by the Buddha after his enlightenment but it is generally agreed as containing the essence of all subsequent teachings. This occasion was effectively the establishment of Buddhism as a religion. A thorough study of this discourse is a must as it puts many of the later teachings into perspective.

A common event during Asalha Bucha would be the chanting of this original discourse - now known as the Dhamma Cakka Sutta (The Setting in Motion of the Wheel of Truth).

Wan Khoa Phansa (Buddhist Lent)

Khao Phansa - falls on the first day after the full moon of the eighth lunar month (July) and marks the beginning of the three-month Buddhist ‘Lent’ period. At this time, all monks and novices must remain in their temples. They should not venture out or spend the night in any other place except in cases of extreme emergency and, even then, their time away must not exceed seven consecutive nights.

This is a time for serious contemplation and meditation for both monks and laymen alike. Traditionally, it is also important for laymen to ordain their sons into the monkhood on this day to get maximum benefit from the Buddhist teachings.

Queen's Birthday & Thai Mother's Day Observance

In Thailand, Mother’s Day is celebrated on Her Majesty, Queen Sirikit’s birthday, August 12. With the passing of His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, in 2016, the Queen continues to be loved, appreciated, and highly respected throughout the kingdom.

While Thai people take the opportunity to pay respect to Her Majesty on this day, there’s also plenty of attention paid to everyday moms. People buy flowers, send cards, take their moms out to dinner, and also visit temples and participate in events recognizing the importance of mothers. You might also make a special effort to demonstrate love and affection to your mother on your own birthday - without her you would not exist.

Khao Pradap Din ~ Buddhist Memorial Service

Khao Pradap Din is celebrated on the 15th day of the waning moon in the 9th lunar month.

The ceremony is to show respect not only to one's own ancestors, but also to the dead with no relatives to remember them. Khoa haw noy containing food, betel for chewing and cigarettes, all wrapped in banana leaves or lotus leaves, is placed in the temple grounds at the foot of trees, before stupas holding the ashes of the deceased relatives, or in the corner of the temple walls as a gift to the spirits. After setting these gifts to the spirits, devout Buddhist then offer food to the monks gaining more merit for the deceased.

To participate in the Khao Pradap Din ceremony, it is traditional to bring the names of those to be memorialized on a sheet of paper to the temple. Photos of the deceased may be placed near the Buddha alter and the list of names will be burned together in a large bowl as the monks chant Buddhist suttas in honor of departed parents, siblings, relatives, friends, or benefactors.

Sard Thai

Sard Thai is observed by devoted families to dedicate merit and honors to their deceased ancestors. Sard Thai is a time to remember those relatives with prayers, Buddhist rituals, and merit making on their behalf.

The word Sard is derived from the Indian word meaning autumn or the fall of the season. Normally, the Sard Thai festival falls on the end of the tenth lunar month, usually some time during September.

A specialty during the Sard Thai festival is Krayasart which is a sweet dessert, prepared from rice, peanuts, sesame seeds and sugar or honey. Usually, on this day, Thai people offer Krayasart to the monks in the temple and also offer the sweet to their relatives, friends, and neighbors as a sign of respect.

Oak Phansa

Oak Phansa marks the end of Vassa, the Rains Retreat, which began with Khao Phansa in July. It ends the three month period of seclusion and study during which monks have remained in one place. On this last day of retreat, monks take time to discuss, counsel, advise, as well as apologize and forgive among themselves. With the restriction on travel lifted, monks are free to travel to other temples and even to their home temples in Thailand.

This is also a day of joyful celebration and merit-making. For many families in Thailand, it is also the day they welcome a son back into the home and celebrate his successful completion of a term in the temple.

King Rama V – Memorial Day

King Chulalongkorn Day, also known as Piyamaharaj Day, is celebrated on October 23rd every year.

King Chulalongkorn, or King Rama V, was the ruler of Siam from 1868-1910 and among his many reforms, his most famous is that he abolished slavery from Thailand. His rule marked the beginning of modernity in Thailand as well as economic progress and social development of the nation. King Chulalongkorn was a firm believer and propagator of nationalism and he was instrumental in putting off the threat to European colonialism.

King Chulalongkorn died on October 23, 1910 and on this day people in Bangkok show respect to the great leader by laying wreaths at the Equestrian Statue in the Royal Plaza, Dusit District. Candles are lit in honor of the departed monarch. People from all walks of life come to show their respect including the police, military, the ruling party as well as civil servants, entrepreneurs, businessmen congregate at the Royal Plaza on King Chulalongkorn Day.

Thod Kathin

Thod Kathin is a ceremony to recognize the effort and achievement of the temple's monks, after a long period of study and devotion centered on the Buddha's teachings, by a donation of new robe cloth. Thod Khatin is celebrated within the 30 day period that begins with the end of the Rains Retreat.

It is the only time of the year when new robes, along with other requisites, may be offered by the laity to the monks and is considered a very significant opportunity to receive merit by contributing to the temple. Since each temple may only hold a Thod Kathin ceremony once each year, it represents a very important merit making opportunity for the lay community.

The merit of a Khatin donation is significant because there is both the positive effect of the contributor's generosity itself, and the enhanced merit of contributing to monks who have made great strides toward realizing the Dhamma, especially during the just completed Rains Retrest. The lay sponsor of each yearly Khatin ceremony, who has accepted the responsibility for organizing and presenting the event, also receives special merit and is highly regarded and respected by the rest of the community.

During the Katina, or robe-giving ceremony, a monk who has completed the three-month rains retreat at the temple is selected to receive the new robe material. All the material must be used in the creation of new robes before sunrise the next day.

Loy Kratong Festival

Loy Kratong, the Candle Light Floating Festival, is one of the most colorful festivals in Thailand. It started in the Sukhothai period and is widely celebrated among people of all religions. The word Loy means "to float" and a Kratong is a lotus-shaped float made of banana leaves. The Kratong usually contains a candle, three incense sticks, some flowers and coins.

The history of Loy Kratong Festival is of Brahmin origin. On this occasion we, 1) offer thanks to the Goddess of the water which is our source of life, 2) apologize to the water Goddess for having used and sometimes made rivers and canals dirty, 3) offer flowers, candles and incense sticks as a tribute to the Holy Footprint of the Buddha and 4) hope to wash away the previous year's misfortunes and to wish for a happy new year.

Thai Father's Day — King Rama IX Memorial Day

With the passing of His Majesty, the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, on October 13th, 2016, the Thai Nation entered into a year of mourning.

All of His Majesty's grateful and loving subjects and so many others, all with the vision and wisdom to see and recognize the value of His Majesty's tireless and never ending efforts in sustaining and improving the Kingdom of Thailand, will continue to mark this date, creating wholesome merit and endless Metta for the benefit of all beings.

The Fifth of December will forever be a memorial day for our beloved Father, King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great.

Embracing the king as a most revered father, Thais also honor all fathers on the King's birthday with the celebration of Thai Father's Day.

Chanting to Invite the New Year

The end of one year and the beginning of another is a special merit making opportunity for those hoping to bring peace, understanding, and harmony to the forefront of consciousness. On New Year's Eve, Monks and Lay Community chant together The Recollection of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha one hundred and eight times (an auspicious number) to welcome the New Year. May being alert and engaged in virtuous activity as one year passes and another arises help all beings understand the true nature of existence and the benefit of understanding the Four Noble Truths.