Thailand Embraces an Empty Visakha Bucha This Year (Photos)

Buddhists engage in a personal 'wian tian' around Wat Samian Nari in Bangkok on May 6, 2020, while wearing face masks.

BANGKOK — Visakha Bucha, one of the most important religious holidays for Thai Buddists, is more quiet than usual in Thailand this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus brought an unprecedented disruption to the holiday, which marks the birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha, as Thais are instructed to stay home and temples ordered to close down. And no wian tian, the rite of candle-lit processions around the temples.

In some parts of Thailand, it was the first time in hundreds of years that Visakha Bucha wasn’t celebrated.

To comply with anti-virus health measures, monks and worshippers this year opted for praying at home, live streaming religious ceremonies on social media, acts of charity, and other activities that don’t involve social gatherings.


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Worshippers give morning alms to monks in Ratchaburi on May 6, 2020.

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Monks and laymen plant trees together to mark Visakha Bucha in Saraburi province on May 6, 2020.

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A Buddhist statue at a Wat Nithet Rat Pradit in Pathum Thani is adorned with a giant face mask on May 6, 2020. Monks at the temple say the gesture is meant to raise awareness about wearing face masks during the coronavirus.

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Vendors pick lotuses in Chai Nat province on May 6, 2020. Lotuses, a flower used in Buddhist religious ceremonies, sell very poorly this year according to local vendors.

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Phra Borommathat Worawihan Temple in Nakhon Si Thammarat remains closed on May 6, 2020. Local monks say it’s the first disruption to Visakha Bucha in the region in a millennia.

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Monks hand out eggs to worshippers for free in Maha Sarakham province. Egg prices have risen recently due to the coronavirus.