It’s been a national holiday in Thailand today to mark Makha Bucha Day. This particular holiday usually falls in February, but like many Buddhist holidays the date varies depending on the lunar cycle. Makha Bucha commemorates the unique event when 1,250 of the Lord Buddha’s disciples spontaneously gathered to hear him preach.
In the morning many Thai people were up early to make merit by giving alms to monks (tam-bun). This evening, many temples have been busy with people listening to sermons and performing the candle ceremony known as wian tian (wian=circle; tian=candle) Holding flowers, incense and a lighted candle, Buddhists walk clockwise around the main bot of the temple. This is done three times. You don’t have to be Buddhist to take part and I witnessed quite a few Westerners joining in. Despite the religious overtones, the holiday is a family day and there was a mixture of all ages at the temple I went to this evening.
There has been added poignancy for Thai people as today also marks 50 days since Princess Galyani Vadhana passed away.