BANGKOK — Buddhists gathered Wednesday to make merit in several temples around Thailand on Visakha Bucha, a festivity marking the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.
Many in largely Buddhist Thailand began observing Visakha Bucha starting Tuesday night.
Locals gathered at Wat Ming Muang to listen to sermons and pay their respects to the image of Phra Upakut Tuesday night. At midnight, the image was mounted onto a decorated car which drove in front of 500 monks asking for alms.
Northern Thais believe that making merit to Phra Upakut can bring them fortune and prosperity. According to a Lanna belief, Phra Upakut observes Buddhist lent under the ocean and comes up to earth during Wednesday’s full moon to save humans from sin.
Wat Phra That Hariphunchai is the center for more than 1,000 people from Lamphun and nearby provinces to make merit on Wednesday morning. At 7pm, there will be a lantern procession from the governor’s residence to the temple.
In the northeastern province, Nakhon Phanom residents and tourists gathered to give alm to monks on Sunthorn Wichit Road along the Mekong River. More activities such as listening to sermons, merit-making and walking with lighted candles around a temple will be held at Wat Phra That Phanom, believed to contain a bone relic of Buddha.
In Uthai Thani, buddhists gathered at Wat Manee Sathit Kapittharam to listen to sermons, make merit and give alms to monks.
More than 500 buddhists from Bueng Kan province and Laos make merit and listen to sermons at Wat Photharam.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is the main venue of the historic city of Ayutthaya, where more than 5,00 people visit the temple to make merit and drape a large saffron cloth over the chedi. It’s believed to bring luck, prosperity and victory.
Thailand’s oldest Buddhist university Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University on Tuesday raised three flags: the national flag, Thai buddhist flag and universal buddhist flag. They say the flags are Thailand’s largest and that one of the poles is the world’s third-highest. They will fly until May 22.
Apart from temples, various religious activities such as merit-making and offerings to monks are held at the Indoor Stadium Hua Mark, near Rajamangala Stadium.
The United Nation has also recognized Visakha Bucha since 1999 to acknowledge Buddhism’s contributions to human spirituality for more than 2,000 years.