Sunday, 22 June 2008

Magha Puja Day In Thailand

Magha Puja Day is celebrated on a full moon day of the third lunar month which invariably falls in the last week of February or beginning of March. In general, most Buddhists are not aware of the significance of Magha Puja Day. As a result, the number of people in the ceremony may be less than those at Visakha Puja or Asanha Puja Days. However, Magha Puja Day carries an equal meaning and importance to all Buddhists.

Magha Puja Day marks four events that took place during the lifetime of Lord Buddha. These events are:

1. 1250 Buddhist monks from different places came to pay homage to Lord Buddha at Valuwan Vihara in Rajgaha, the capital of Magaha State. Each monk came on his own initiative without prior notification.

2. All monks were enlightened monks

3. All 1250 monks had been individually ordained by Lord Buddha

4. They assembled on the full moon day of the third lunar month

In the evening of that day, Lord Buddha gave the assembled monks a discourse, laying down the principles of his teachings and summarized into three acts – to do good, to abstain from bad action and to purify the mind.

There is no indication as to when the Magha Puja ceremony actually took place. However, King Rama IV ordered the royal Magha Puja ceremony to be performed in the Emerald Buddha Temple in 1851. Later the ceremony gained popularity and was performed through out the kingdom. In Thailand, the day is public holiday so that people from all walks of life can participate in the religious activities.

In the Emerald Buddha Temple, the king of Thailand presides over the religious ceremony and leads a candle lit procession within the temple’s compound. This procession take place at 8:00 p.m. in Bangkok and is led by Buddhist monks.