Today is Visakha Bucha day in Thailand. Visakha Bucha is a very important day in Buddhist tradition as it marks the birth of Prince Siddhatha Gotama who Became Buddha thirty five years after his birth, and died 45 years after becomoning Buddha. All three of these events happened on the 15th day of the waxing moon
in the 6th lunar month,which is the day of the full moon.
Throughout Thailand people will be heading to temples to take part in ceremonies and give flowers, incense, and other gifts to Pay respect to the great teacher Buddha. At temples such as Wat Phra That Phanom many people will gather and circle the great pagoda three times before giving their respects. The great pagoda at Wat Phra That Phanome was built eight years after Buddha’s death and houses his collar bone which is revered as a holy relic.
The following history of Visakha Bucha is courtesy of the Royal Thai Consulate General in Vancouver.
(Vesak) means the worship of the Buddha on the full moon day of the
sixth lunar month. It usually falls in May. In the case of a year with
an extra eighth lunar month-Adhikamasa (there are 13 full moons in
that year)- the Visakha Bucha Day falls on the full moon day of the
seventh lunar month.
The Vesak full moon day
(The full moon day of Sixth lunar month)
Bucha Day is one of the most important days in Buddhism because of
three important incidents in the life of The Buddha, i.e. the birth,
the enlightenment and the passing away, miraculously fall on the same
month and date, the Vesak full moon day. .So each year, Buddhists
throughout the world gather together to perform the worship to
recollect the wisdom, purity and compassion of the Buddha.
The Buddha was a king by birth. His clan name was Gotama. He was born
in Sakya Kingdom, eighty years before the Buddhist Era (around 2625
year ago), at Lumbini Park (now called Rummindel, in Nepal, north of
India), in Madhayama Pradesa, located between Kapilavastu, capital of
the Sakya Kingdom and Devadaha, capital of the Koliya Kingdom, on
Friday, the Vesak full moon day in the year of the dog.
Prince Siddhatha (the Buddha’s personal name) was the son of King
Suddhodana and Queen Sirimahamaya. On his birthday, Queen Sirimahamaya
who was pregnant, wanted to pay a visit to Devadaha wich was her native
In the morning of the Vesak Full moon day, the Queen left Kapilavastu
on a visit to Devadaha. Approaching a lovely park of Sals trees called
Lumbini, located between the two capitals but nearer to Devadaha, the
Queen wanted to visit the park and when she arrived at a Sal tree she
started contractions and gave birth to a son there. When the Kings of
Kapilavastu and Devadaha learned this, they were very happy and
arranged a procession back to Kapilavastu.
Prince Siddhatta was brought up in the midst of luxury, led the happy
life of a privileged youth and married at the age of 16 to Princess
Yasodhara or Bimba who bore him a son, Rahula.
He discontened and took on the life of a wandering ascetic a the bank of the Anoma River. He was then 29.
He studied the mystic practices of the foremost Brahmin ascetics and
realized that such practices were not the way to enlightenment. He went
on his own way applying the reflective thought of conscious meditation
to a rational simple life of moderation.
At the age of 35, he attained Enlightenment at Uruvelasenanigama
subdistrict, Magadha State, (nowadays, located in the area of Buddha
Kaya, Bihar State, India), on Wednesday, the Vesak Full moon day, the
year of the cock, forty five years before the Buddhist Era.
The Dhamma discovered by the Buddha was Ariyasacca or the Four Noble Truths, namely:
The Noble Truth of Suffering
The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering
The Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering
The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Extinction of Suffering
After having attained Enlightenment, the Buddha wandered from place to
place teaching his discoveries to people who are accessible to
instruction, helping large numbers of them achieve various levels of
spiritual attainment. He sent his followers to spread Buddhism in
capitals, cities and upcountry, until Buddhism was firmly established
and widely spread.
The Buddha passed away on Tuesday, the Vesak full moon day in the year
of the small snake under the two Sal trees in the Sala Grove of the
Mallas in Kusinara, capital of the Malla State, (nowadays located in
Kusinagara of Uttrarapradesa, India) at the age of eighty (around 2545
The performance of the rituals on Visakha Bucha day had been
continuously observed in Jambudavipa or India, the motherland of
Buddhism, for a long time before Buddhism spread to Sri Lanka and
Thailand. There, the Visakha worship has been continually observed to
the present day.
In Thailand, Visakha Bucha observance began during the Sukhuthai period
(around 700 years ago), because of the close religious relations
between Thailand and Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan monks came to propagate
Buddhism in Thailand and were highly respected. Thai monks also went to
study in Sri Lanka. It’s believed that, those monks introduced this
ceremony to the King and people at that time.
More pictures of Wat Phra That Phanom can be seen in the gallery Wat Phra That Phanom.