Buddhists in Bangkok joined the prayer ceremony at Sanam Luang to mark Visakha Bucha Day yesterday, while others in the rest of the country participated in similar rituals at their neighbourhood temples.
People living in the three southern border provinces began their candle-lit walk around the temple in the middle of the afternoon for fear of attacks despite stepped-up security.
Visakha Bucha commemorates the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of the Buddha.
At 7am yesterday, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra led other devout Buddhists in giving alms to 231 monks in Sanam Luang, where exhibitions and other special events have been held since May 18. The Buddha relic has been moved to the area for the devout to worship and will be returned to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha today.
Senior monks also held sermons based on the Buddha’s life and his incarnations, while donations were collected to help the poor and temples in the South.
Meanwhile, despite the boosted security in the South, four rangers were ambushed and killed on their way to a temple in Pattani. Troops had been deployed to guard temples as Buddhists came out to make merit and participate in the candle-lit walk around the temple.
In Narathiwat, people began the candle-lit walk at 12.30pm instead of at the traditional 7pm. Up to 40 Buddhists showed up at the Urai Rattanaram temple in Bacho district, with many saying that since there were only two small Buddhist communities left in the district, they were delighted to meet up with one another.
In Nakhon Ratchasima, Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda chaired a merit-making ceremony to mark 2,600 years of Buddhism. Also present were Second Army Area commander Lt-General Jirasak Chomprasop, Nakhon Ratchasima Governor Winai Buapradit and about 1,500 Buddhists.
In Ayutthaya, Sri Lankan Ambassador General Shantha Kottegoda gave alms to monks at the Pananchoeng Temple and later joined Governor Witthaya Phiewpong and other Buddhists in a prayer ceremony for Their Majesties the King and Queen.
In Ranong, people crossed over from Myanmar to make merit, especially at the Suwan Khri Viharn Temple. It is believed that a stupa inside the temple complex was built by Myanmar more than 50 years ago and is said to contain a Buddha relic.
In Lamphun, many Buddhists gathered to make merit at the Phra That Hariphumchai Temple in Muang district and joined Governor Pinij Harnpanich and other government officials in giving alms to 89 monks. They also participated in the candle-lit walk around the Hariphumchai Stupa at 7pm. This stupa is also believed to contain a Buddha relic.