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Buddhist Lent Begins in Thailand

Buddhist statue at Wat Phra That Phanome

Buddhist statue at Wat Phra That Phanome

Today marks the beginning of Buddhist lent in Thailand. Buddhist Lent starts on the first day of the waning moon of the 8th lunar month (July) and ends on the 15th day of the 11th lunar month (October). Also known as the rains retreat or Khao Phansa in Thai.

it’s a time when all Buddhist monks will spend the next three months of the rainy season in permanent dwellings. In early Buddhism it was believed that if a monk or holy man traveled during this time when crops started growing they might accidentally trample new plants. Buddha himself said all that follow him should also follow in this tradition. This is the day that Buddhist monks will take a vow to stay in one place or temple which will house them from the coming storms and rain.

During Lent Buddhist monks aside from staying in one particular temple will teach those that wish to become ordained in the Buddhist doctrine. This will be the beginning of their studies.

Followers of Buddhism during lent are to refrain from bad actions such as alcohol or drug use, anything that would cause followers to lead an inappropriate life. During this time they will gain merit by meditating, listening to sermons and observing the 5 precepts. The precepts are

  • Abstain from harming living things
  • Abstain from taking things not freely given
  • Abstain from indulging in sexual misconduct
  • Abstain from speaking falsly
  • Abstain from using intoxicating drinks or drugs that cause heedlessness

In Thailand The monks will vow to stay in one temple and not leave the temple grounds. Normally the monks would walk the surrounding city or country every morning to receive offerings from the people but being growing season Buddha doesn’t want them to trample new seedlings.
The beginning of Buddhist lent in Thailand is a celebration centered around the ceremony of giving candles to the temples for religious worship.  Colorful candle processions will be organized at each temple where the offering will be made by many participants. The procession itself will have many large ornate candles carved from bees wax into shapes of temples, religious figures, and creatures.

Traditional offering buckets filled with essentials such as rice, soap, and candles.

Offerings outside temple

The act of donating candles to the temple for religious worship is supposed to give great blessings to the donor. They will also offer food and other necessities to the monks and then the procession will walk three times around the temple. After which prayers and meditations will be done.

At this time a lot of buddhist followers will make resolutions to be a better person by giving up smoking or alchohol and observing the 5 precepts of Buddhism.

No matter what religion you are visitors are always welcome to take part in the ceremonies. Just visiting a temple on a non-holiday and making an offering is a very soothing experience that you shouldn’t miss out on if you get the chance.

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Comment by mommyandmeboutiqueNo Gravatar
2008-07-18 21:56:34

That was quite interesting. Does the lent season apply only to the monks and not to the people? Also, does a public celebration take place at the beginning of the lent or is it taken place privately within the group of monks in the temple.
It is always nice to learn of others cultures and religions. thanks for posting this article.

Comment by DirtyLaundryDivaNo Gravatar
2008-07-18 21:56:55

I have always been interested in Buddhism, it seems like it is a peaceful religion.

DirtyLaundryDivas last blog post..Would you take cleaning advice from the RaunchyPetHome owners?

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2008-07-18 23:36:41

The lent season applies to monks in terms of not traveling but all Buddhists should try to maintain the 5 precepts.

The candle procession is a public celebration.

Comment by JennNo Gravatar
2008-07-20 20:02:31

Is it just in Thailand, or the Lent applies to all the Buddhist in the world?

I am glad you’re still able to blog! =)

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2008-07-20 20:26:38

A lot of Buddhist’s such as the Mahayana Buddhists have given this practice up since they are not in a climate that has a rainy season.

And although it is undertaken by many followers they really only try to maintain the 5 precepts.

Comment by shearyadiNo Gravatar
2008-07-21 09:40:43

Namo Buddhaya, greetings from Indonesia

The 5 precepts are the basic teachings of all Buddhas, so by doing them all we also have doing all the teachings.

Metta Cittena,
May all beings are in happiness

Comment by Sheila SultaniNo Gravatar
2008-07-21 11:14:28

I never knew that Buddhist had a “lent”. Very interesting post, thanks!

Comment by torashamNo Gravatar
2008-07-22 03:02:37

a wonderful rites. glad to know this. thank you my friend.

torashams last blog post..Legacy from Paleolithic Age

Comment by inspireNo Gravatar
2008-07-22 13:19:11

I wonder if I could qualify to become a Buddhist monk? And how long do ya think it might take? ;)
inspires last blog post..Ten Things I Know About Men

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2008-07-22 20:56:20

In Thailand there is only 1 legitimate female Buddhist monk although there is a movement to change this. Females that wish to follow the order can become nuns and don the white robes.

In your case I don’t think you’d survive shaving your head or wearing white after labor day :)

Comment by inspireNo Gravatar
2008-07-23 12:10:10

Lol, Talen, there is more to me than shallow obsessions, contrary to popular opinion. ;)

If I were to practice a religion, it would probably be Buddhism.

inspires last blog post..Ten Things I Know About Men

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