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Khao Phansa Day

Khao Phansa Day

Khao Phansa Day is a public Buddhist holiday observed throughout Thailand; held on the first day after the full moon of the 8th month in the Thai lunar calendar.

Also known as the Buddhist Lent, this event marks the start of the yearly 3-month rains-retreat for monastics, known locally as vassavasa.

Khao Phansa Day 2021 Buddhist Lent Dates, Chiang Mai, Thailand

It has its origins in India, as it’s recognized as the time when the ancient monastics ceased their activities for a three-month period during the monsoon season. It is believed that Buddha asked his disciples to observe the retreat for two primary reasons: the first is because the monsoon period makes travelling around India on foot dangerous because paths are exposed to mud and the roads are slippery. The second reason is that the rains increase the risk of causing harm to animals unintentionally since when monks walk around during the rains, they tend to accidentally step on or injure wildlife. Tradition also has it that the monks stay in the temple during the entire Lenten period as a form of spiritual renewal.

Devoted Buddhists in Thailand, as well as other parts of the world, adopt ascetic practices during this period, such as giving up alcohol, tobacco, and meat. They also engage in spiritual activities such as observing the Eight Precepts, meditation and giving alms to the sangha.

If you’re travelling to northern Thailand during Khao Phansa Day, it’s an excellent time to witness the candle making ceremony, wherein the local community brings yellow and white candles to make special candles for the event. The Candle Festival is also a major activity of Buddhist Lent, and the best place to observe this is in the Thung Sri Mueng temple in Ubon Ratchathanee.

In Chiang Mai, it is nothing short of delightful to see the villagers engage in various merit-making activities, offering an assortment of sweet and savoury dishes to the monks. Lanterns and candles are also seen throughout the city, as it is believed that they give the monks the illumination needed for physical and spiritual nourishment.

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