Visakha Bucha Day or Wan Pra Yai marks the three important incidents in the life of Lord Buddha on the same day – the full moon of the sixth lunar month. The three significant separate events are :
1. The Buddha’s Birth
2. The Enlightenment of Buddha – While sitting under the Bodhi tree, he found his answer and attained the enlightenment at the age of 35 years.
3. The Nibbana The Buddha passed away on Tuesday, the Vesak full moon day in the zodiac year of the small snake under the two Sal trees in the Sala Grove of the Mallas in Kusinara, the capital of the Malla state, (nowadays located in Kusinagara of Uttrarapradesa, India) at the age of eighty years (around 2547 years ago).Wisaka Bucha Day falls every year in the month of May. This year it is on Tuesday, May 29.
Wisaka Bucha Day is regognized as most important memorial day in Buddhism for the Lord Buddha. Wisaka Bucha day is also recognized by the UNESCO in 1999 as “World Heritage Day”. Thailand where is the permanent location of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, was chosen to host celebrating event for the day.
Activities to be observed on Visakha Bucha Day
Common activities during Visakha Bucha Day focus on merit making:
- Offering food to monks and novices in the morning,
- Some people visit the temples to listen to Dhamma preaching
- Making merit by going to temples for special observances, making merit, giving some donations and join in the other Buddhist activities.
- Setting birds or fish free to get rid of bad karma.
After sunset, candle-lit processions take place at major temples throughout the country. The devout Buddhists walk three times around the principle chapel clockwise , each clasping three incense sticks, a lighted candle and lotus buds. The air is filled with burning incense and smoke from the candles as the faithful complete this most sacred of Buddhist celebrations.
In Thailand, Visakha Bucha Day is a public holiday, so government offices, banks and many shops are closed. Out of respect, Sales of all kinds of alcoholic drinks are banned from midnight of the religious day until midnight of the following day. Properly registered hotels are, however, exempted from the ban under the Hotels Act.