Makha Bucha Day 2024: A Guide to Thailand's Buddhist Festival

THéo COurant

Travelling around South East Asia

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Makha Bucha Day 2024: A Guide to Thailand's Buddhist Festival

Makha Bucha Day is indeed one of the most significant Buddhist celebrations in Thailand. Here’s a presentation along with essential information to ensure you don’t miss any details.

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Makha Bucha Day 2024 in Thailand

Makha Bucha, also spelled Makha Pucha, is an important Buddhist holiday observed on the full moon day of the third lunar month in the Buddhist calendar.
This year, Makha Bucha, also known as Makha Pucha, falls on Saturday, February 24th. This auspicious day holds significant importance and, like all major festivals, is observed as a public holiday. However, given that the festival coincides with a Saturday this year, Monday, February 26th, has been designated as an additional public holiday. Consequently, governmental offices, schools, and select banks will remain closed on these days.

The original tale of Makha Bucha Day - Makha Pucha

According to the original narrative, Buddha’s disciples, acting independently and without prior arrangement, spontaneously congregated around their revered teacher to express gratitude for the wisdom he had imparted to them. It was during this gathering that Buddha expounded upon the Ovat Patimok, a teaching grounded in three fundamental tenets of Buddhist philosophy:

Do no evil, perform good deeds, and purify the mind.

Makha Bucha: a sacred day

Makha Bucha holds profound significance for all of Thailand, serving not only as a religious observance but also as a cherished family tradition. Typically, families participate in a morning ritual by visiting the temple to present offerings to the monks, a departure from the customary routine. Throughout the rest of the year, monks typically receive alms from the local community, but on Makha Bucha, this practice is reversed, symbolizing a unique expression of reverence and gratitude.

The afternoon is dedicated to temple activities, charitable donations, meditation, and engaging in sermons, which emphasize the importance of benevolent actions towards others. As with many religious festivals, Makha Bucha entails certain obligations, known as “Lab Sin,” underscoring the significance of moral duties and spiritual reflection.

There are 5 fundamental precepts:

• Abstaining from killing,
• Refraining from stealing,
• Remaining faithful to one’s spouse,
• Avoiding falsehoods,
• Abstaining from the consumption of alcohol.
As a result, it is challenging to locate establishments selling alcohol on this day.

The evening marks the highly anticipated commencement of the processions beneath the radiant full moon. This ritual, known as the Vien Tien, involves circumambulating the temple three times while holding three sticks of incense, flowers, and a candle.

• The first round is conducted in reverence to Buddha,
• The second round is dedicated to his teachings,
• And the third round is in homage to his disciples.

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The Illumination of Temples During Makha Bucha

As night descends, the temples bustle with activity, attracting families and friends alike. In response, the temples extend their operating hours to accommodate the influx of devotees. Numerous stalls adorn the premises, offering flowers, incense, candles, and small votive offerings. Some temples even affix ropes to the summits of their stupas, enabling worshippers to suspend banknotes—a symbolic gesture believed to bestow good fortune—or buckets of water blessed by the monks. Upon reaching the apex, these offerings are ceremoniously poured over the stupa, symbolizing the purification of the temple with sanctified water.

Makha Bucha fosters a convivial atmosphere, providing families an opportunity to partake in the tradition of temple visitation illuminated by the glow of candlelit processions. It is a poignant reminder of the enduring legacy of ancient customs, prevailing amidst the encroachment of the modern world.

Where to Celebrate Makha Bucha Day in Thailand?

Many of the Wat temples in Bangkok extend their hours into the late evening for Makha Bucha celebrations. With numerous Wat temples to choose from, consulting our list (see additional information) can assist you in deciding which ones to visit.

As for our recommendations, there are particular locations we favor for experiencing the Makha Bucha rituals:

Makha Bucha Day in Bangkok

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Wat Traimit, Temple of the Golden Buddha

  • Address: 661 Charoen Krung Rd, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100 - Map here
  • Free entry on Makha Bucha night. Non-celebration: paid entry for foreigners: 40 baht to go to the 4ᵉ floor and discover the statue, 100 baht to visit the museums.
  • How to get there: MRT Hua Lamphong station + walk (10 minutes)
  • Appropriate dress required
wat-yannawa-bangkok

Wat Yannawa - Sathorn

  • Address: 40 Charoen Krung Rd, Yan Nawa, Sathon, Bangkok 10120 - Map here
  • To get there: BTS Saphan Taksin station + walk (5 mins) or boat down to Sathorn Pier + walk (8 mins)
 wat-intharawihan-bangkok

Wat Intharawihan - Close to Khao San road

  • Address: Unnamed Road, Bang Khun Phrom, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200 - Map here
  • How to get there: By boat, get off at Thewes Pier (N15) + walk (10 minutes).
    For those of you in the Khao San Road area, the temple is not very far away and is easily reached on foot. Just turn right off Khao Sand Road onto Chakkra Phong Road and walk for 15-20 minutes.
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Wat Saket

  • Address: 344 Thanon Chakkraphatdi Phong, Ban Bat, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100 - Map here
  • How to get there: By MRT Wat Mangkon station + taxi or moto-taxi or walk (20 minutes). By boat Tha Chang stop (N°9) + taxi or motorbike taxi or walk (30 minutes)
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Wat Phitchaya – Thonburi

  • Address: Somdet Chao Phraya Rd, Somdet Chao Phraya, Khlong San, Bangkok 10600 - Map here
  • How to get there: by boat to Memorial Bridge stop (no. 6) + taxi or motorbike taxi or walk (20 minutes - the most pleasant option)
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Wat Bukkhalo

  • Address: Charoen Nakhon 63 Alley, Dao Khanong, Thon Buri, Bangkok 10600 - Map here
  • How to get there: BTS Talat Phlu station (stop S10) + taxi. By bus no. 6 and 17.
Wat Hua Lamphong

Wat Hua Lamphong

Right next to the Sam Yan MRT station, in the heart of the Silom district, the Wat Hua Lamphong is a Wat where you could see animals in a small menagerie. With the pandemic, the animals were moved. With a more stable situation, perhaps the animals will return to the temple. In any case, it’s a beautiful place for religious celebrations.

Makha Bucha Day on the periphery of Bangkok

Buddhamonthon

The world centre of Buddhism Buddhamonthon

This is one of the most imposing centres and is the site of a very large procession every year. A bronze statue of Buddha over 15 metres high symbolises the heart of Buddhamonthon. Because of its royal recognition, the statue is one of the most venerated in Thailand.

Makha Bucha Day in Pattaya

Wat Chaimongkol will attract large numbers of worshippers again this year, and there will also be a fair with stalls selling food and cheap goods.

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Wat Chaimongkol

  • Address: 18 S Pattaya Rd, Pattaya City, Bang Lamung District, Chon Buri 20150 - Map here

Makha Bucha Day in Phuket

In Phuket, several temples will be welcoming large numbers of devotees for Makha Bucha Day. While the rituals are identical from one temple to another, some are organising mini-markets.

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The main temples in Phuket where Makha Bucha Day is celebrated

  • Wat Chalong
  • Big Buddha
  • Wat Phra Thong
  • Wat Phra Nang Sang
  • Wat Sri Sunthon
  • Wat Khao Rang Samakkhi Tham

Makha Bucha Day in Chiang Mai

Several Temples in the city host events, such as those at Wat Phra Singh, Wat Umong, Wat Ched Yot, and Wat Chedi Luang, offering visitors the opportunity to engage with the area’s vibrant cultural and spiritual traditions

Don’t miss your chance to take part in Makha Bucha Day 2024 in Thailand. Whether you’re interested in traditional temple ceremonies, candlelit night processions, or simply discovering Thai culture and spirituality, this event offers something for everyone.

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