When is Asahna Bucha Day?
Asahna Bucha is a national Holiday in Thailand. It replaced Buddhist Lent as a gazetted holiday in 2007.
The date in the western calendar depends on Lunar cycle.It is also known as Asalha Puja or Dhamma Day.
This day, the first full moon of the eighth lunar month, commemorates the Buddha's first sermon in the Deer Park in Benares, India and the founding of the Buddhist sangha (monkhood) about 2,500 years ago.
In the sermon, which is known as 'Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion', the Buddha first spelled out the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
The day marks the beginning of Vassa, the Buddhist lent period also known as the 'Rains Retreat'.
To mark the day, ceremonies are held in Buddhist temples across Thailand. Many Thai people return to their ancestral homes to donate offerings to temples and listen to sermons. In the evening they will often perform a ceremony called 'wian tian', where they walk clockwise around the main shrine of the temple carrying a candle, incense sticks and lotus flowers.
During the day, monks chant mantras and preach the first sermon of the Buddha.
In Saraburi, local monks parade through the town with their alms bowls. Instead of the usual offerings of food, people will instead put flowers into their bowls. The monks then return to the temples and offer the flowers in honour of the Buddha.
Asanha Bucha Day is traditionally a popular day for young Thai men to enter the monkhood.
The day following Asahna Bucha is known as Khao Phansa or 'Buddhist Lent'. It marks the beginning of the three-month ‘Phansa’ period, during which all monks should stay in their temples and not travel.
During the lent period, elaborate wax candles are kept burning. In the city of Ubon, there is a Candle Festival is held. Following a parade of candles, the winners of best candle design are announced.
Buddhist Lent Day is also a public holiday in Thailand, though banks are not closed.