Makha Bucha Day

Makha Bucha, sometimes spelled Magha Puja, is one of the most important dates in the Buddhist calendar. Celebrated on the full moon night of the third lunar month, it is a day of veneration, marking the day nine months after Buddha's enlightenment when 1,250 of his ordained followers spontaneously gathered to hear Him give a sermon, at which he established the basic tenants of the monastic order - the Sangha. The day is a public holiday in Thailand, as well as Laos and Cambodia.

Makha Bucha procession at the Golden Mount
Monks begin the candle-light procession up Bangkok's Golden Mount

Observances on the day begin around sunset at temples all around Thailand. Thais will come to pray, make offerings, then, after sunset, there will be candlelight processions around the ordination hall (ubosot) or pagoda, if the temple has an especially important one. Some of the best places to observe Makha Bucha in Bangkok are the Golden Mount and Wat Benjamabopit (the "Marble Temple"). At the golden mount, monks from the temple (Wat Saket) lead a procession up the mount.

Since Makha Bucha is based on the lunar calendar ("Makha" in fact is the Pali word for the third month), the date varies from year to year. The estimated date for the next Makha Bucha day is 31 January 2018.