The government is inviting Thai and foreign Buddhists to participate in the “Buddhism Propagation Week” activities at Buddha Monthon Park in Nakhon Pathom province from February 5 to 9 to celebrate the annual Makha Bucha Festival.
The main event at Buddha Monthon features a range of activities including the offering of alms to 400 monks at 7am on February 8 and the candle procession at 4pm the same day. Prayers and meditation will be held on February 6 to make merit for Their Majesties the King and Queen as well as Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Queen Mother, according to Prime Minister’s Office Minister Tewan Liptapallop.
With the ongoing 2019-nCoV coronavirus situation in Thailand and the large crowd expected to show up for the event, the National Office of Buddhism has prepared face masks to be handed out to attendees as a precaution.
During the festival period, Buddhist nationwide – as well as Thais overseas – are also urged to make merit at temples, which will hold morning alms offering, Dhamma preaching, and the evening candle procession around Chedi or Ubosot on Makha Bucha Day – while also refraining from all vices in order to mark the occasion.
To promote the upcoming “Buddhism Propagation Week”, which will emphasize environmental conservation, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will on the morning of February 4 be presented at the Government House an exhibition from Wat Chak Daeng in Samut Prakan, which became famous for a special project to recycle plastic trash into fibres to make monk robes. This event will also feature a group of kindergarten students singing the Makha Bucha song.
Makha Bucha Day – a public holiday in Thailand – is observed on the full moon day of the third lunar month to mark the important gathering of Lord Buddha and his 1,250 disciples at Veruvan Monastery where he preached to the assembly the fundamental lesson known as “Owat Patimok”. The concept that people must practice goodness in every way, refrain from all kinds of wickedness, and purify the mind by observing the precepts and meditation in order to reach enlightenment is at the very core of Buddhism.
This assembly was also known as “Jaturongkhasannibat” (The assembly of 4) comprising four miraculous components: the full moon in the middle of month; the 1,250 monks were there to see Lord Buddha by coincidence – without any advance appointment; the 1,250 monks were all “Arahat” who already attained enlightenment; and the 1,250 monks were all those who had been ordained by the Buddha himself.