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Makha Bucha Thai Buddhist Holiday

Makha Bucha day is a once per year holy Buddhist day that is celebrated by many Thai Theravada Buddhist practitioners in Thailand.

Each year there are three major Buddhist holidays celebrated throughout Thailand in celebration of special events occurring during the Buddha’s lifetime. The first such holiday of the year is Makha Bucha. Makha Bucha takes place on a full-moon night of the third lunar month which is usually in February.

Makha Bucha is an observance of two different important events which occurred on the same day, but forty five years apart.

The first of these events happened just seven months months after Buddha was enlightened and was teaching. At the time he had 1,340 followers or disciples. Of that number 1,250 of them came spontaneously – without prior announcement, to meet the Buddha.

Buddha took the gathering as an opportunity to teach about the three main principles of Buddhism in the Patimokka.

The three principles are:

  1. Practice no evil, avoid sinning.
  2. Cultivate good & make merit
  3. Clean out the mind of impure thoughts.

In addition to the three principles the Buddha taught five additional precepts. These are universal principles to follow in order that we live a life that is happy and beneficial to others.

Five Precepts

  1. Not killing
  2. Not stealing
  3. Not misusing sex
  4. Not lying
  5. Not abusing intoxicants

The second event that occurred on the full moon of the third lunar month forty-five years later was the Buddha realized that he would die in exactly three months, which did occur.

On that day the Buddha taught that people should:

  1. Enjoy work or responsibility
  2. Be diligent in work
  3. Concentrate on the job while working.
  4. Check all unfinished work thoroughly.

Due to the state of his health his attainment of Nirvana, or escape from the cycle of rebirths, was approaching within three months. On that day he formulated and preached his Dhamma about the responsibility of an individual or organization. These are that a person should:

In celebration of Makha Bucha day Buddhists gather at the temple to make merit – giving Thai monks money and other offerings for items they might use at the temple.

In the evening there is chanting and a large number of people gather where they receive one flower – usually a lotus, three sticks of incense and one candle. After an hour or so of chanting the people gather around the main temple building – the bot, where they light the incense and candles and begin to walk around the bot three times.

The number three is significant, and often used in Buddhist traditions. The number three signifies the Buddha, the Dhamma (the word of the Buddhism), and the Sangha – the family of Buddhists.

So if you happen to be anywhere near a temple on a special Buddhist day, you welcome to join in as well.

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