Today, February 18, marks the full moon of the third month of the lunar calendar. This date is significant for Theravada Buddhists because it is believed to be an important event in the Buddha’s life. On the same lunar date Lord Buddha gave an important sermon, known as the Ovādapātimokkha, in which he laid out the first rules for how to live a holy life. What was remarkable about the incident was that the 1250 attending monks hadn’t been summoned, but rather independently and spontaneously came to hear him speak.
Today across Thailand (and Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Sri Lanka) Buddhists will pay visits to their local temples and observe the five precepts of Buddhism: abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication. (Obviously, these are things to be observed every day, but probably most notably, alcohol sales today will be prohibited until midnight.)
At the temple, offerings will be made to the monks and the Buddha, and crowds will gather for the day’s sermon. In the evening, Buddhists will walk three times around the temple or even just the central Buddha image while carrying a lighted candle. This procession is call “wian tian.”
(This holiday is also known as Magha Puja.)
Photos by Kevin Revolinski