Asalha Bucha Day [วันอาสาฬหบูชา: wan aa-săan-hà buu-chaa] marks the day when the Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon known as “Dhammachakkappavattanasutta” (ธัมมจักกัปปวัตนสูตร) which he preached to five ascetics at Benares in India over 2,500 years ago, as result all of them attained enlightenment and was ordained by the Buddha as the first ever Buddhist monks. Hence, the origin of Buddhist monks, we see wearing orange color saffron.
It falls on the full moon day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar year, generally in July.
Buddhists participate in the ceremonies by performing a variety of Buddhist activities at the temples, mainly merit-making ceremonies. They offer food and alms to monks, give donations, listen to sermons, and observe the Five Precepts or the Eight Precepts. Some practice meditationม some more devout ones also practice renunciation by wearing white robes and staying in the temple for a number of days. They chant prayers, abstain from all kinds of immoral acts, and try to have their mind purified.
In the evening of the Asalaha Bucha Day the believers join the Candle Light Procession, the “Wian Tian” (เวียนเทียน), where people will walk three times around a Temple in a clockwise direction, carrying a lighted candle, Joss sticks and flowers which will later be given as an offering to pay homage to the Lord Buddha. “Wian” (เวียน) means to circle and “Tian”(เทียน) is a candle.
The day after Asahna Bucha is another significant day which marks the start of the three-month ‘Phansa’ period which is referred to as ‘Buddhist Lent’.
Asalha Bucha Day is also a public holiday in Thailand. It is illegal to buy and sell alcohol on this day, except in hotels.
NOTE: The reason for alcohol sale’s ban during the major religious holidays is one of the five precepts “ to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness.” (ไม่ดื่มเหล้า)
Have you ever joined any Buddhist activities?