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Makha Bucha – A Day to Repent your Sins in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia

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Makha Bucha is an important religious festival observed by Buddhists in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.  It is celebrated on the full moon day of the third lunar month, which usually falls in late February or early March.  In 2010, it will occur on February 28th. Makha Bucha is a public holiday and an occasion where followers of Buddhism are reminded of Buddha and his teachings.  Many will go to a temple and perform merit making activities on this day.  The spiritual aims of the day are not to commit any kinds of sins and to purify one’s mind.

Full moon days are a revered occasion in Buddhism and considered a holy day.  On these days, people will make merits at their local temples.  A good Buddhist will adhere to the precepts laid upon by Buddha, much like how followers of Christianity obey the Ten Commandments.  Some of these precepts include avoiding consumption of alcohol, killing, stealing, lying and cheating.  Some of the less ‘severe’ precepts are broken regularly by many (such as alcohol consumption) and Makha Bucha is a chance for people to seek forgiveness.  The festival also reinforces the idea of pure and sacred path to enlightenment.

Makha Bucha commemorates the ordainment of Buddha’s first 1250 disciples who spontaneously came to see him and to listen to his sermon that day 2500 years ago.  It is also said that on this day more than 2550 years ago, Buddha announced his passing away, which would happen three months later.  He correctly predicted his death and it is now remembered as Visakha Bucha Day (which also happens to be his birthday and enlightenment day).

In the evening, most temples in Thailand hosts a candle procession called Wien Tien (Wien meaning circle and Tien meaning candle).  With a candle, incense sticks and lotus flower in hand, people walk around the temple three times, once each to venerate Buddha, the Dharma (Buddha’s teachings), and the Sangha (monastic life).

Thailand, Cambodia and Laos hold strong Theravada Buddhist traditions, making this holiday a very important one in each country’s calendars.  If you have any questions or are going to visit one of these countries during this day, you may contact us if you would like to tweak your itinerary with a temple visit and fully experience the festival.  Discover the beautiful culture and heritage of these three countries with Exotisimo’s Colorful Capitals tour.  Discover some of Southeast Asia’s most colorful cities with a tour to its historical sites and rarely seen locations.  You can also see our suggested multi-country tours page for other memorable trips into this beautiful and captivating region.

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