By THE NATION
Bangkok Governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang led officials and the public to offer morning alms to 68 monks at Khon Muang Plaza in front of City Hall, while various temples also organised a ritual of solemn candlelight procession circling three times around pagoda or Ubosot in the evening.
Also in Bangkok, a large number of people showed up at the Thai Red Cross Society’s National Blood Center on Henry Dunant Road in Pathumwan district to make blood donations as a merit-making gesture to mark the occasion.
In Nakhon Si Thammarat’s Muang district, a “one-of-a-kind” procession was held to take thousand-yard-long red, yellow and white strip cloths –they are called “Phra Bot Cloth” and are imprinted with paintings about Lord Buddha’s life story –to wrap around the sacred Phra Borommahathat Chedi with the Buddha’s relics. It is an annual tradition which has been carried out for more than 800 years and is being recommended for UNESCO intangible world heritage status in 2020.
Elsewhere in the country devout Buddhists also made merit at temples via alms/food offerings to monks, attending sermons, meditating and praying as well as attending solemn candlelight processions.
In the violence-plagued deep South, Buddhist people also made merit amid security provided by the Army and attended solemn candlelight processions. Several temples there arranged for the processions to take place during the daytime for safety reasons. In Yala’s Muang district, where 17 temples hosted Makha Bucha Day celebrations and only two of them staged their processions during the day, provincial governor Anuchit Trakulmututa led 200 public members, most of them students, to make merit at Wat Weruwan.
Up North in Phayao’s Muang district, provincial governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn led officials, public members and students to attend an impressive “Khao Thip” (pure rice) boat procession in the Kwan Phayao Lake to present rice and related offerings to the sacred Phra Chao Ton Luang statue at the lakeside Wat Sri Khom Kham.
Makha Bucha Day is an important Buddhist festival celebrated on the full moon day of the third lunar month to mark the “Four-fold Assembly” of 1,250 enlightened monks (arhat) that took place more than 2,500 years ago.
All of those monks, who had been ordained personally by Lord Buddha, met spontaneously that day with no prior scheduling. Lord Buddha thus addressed them, pronouncing the Ovat Patimok: “Do good, avoid evil and maintain the purity of your soul.”