Makha Bucha takes place annually on the night of the full moon during the third lunar month of the year.
The event marks the anniversary of the Buddha’s first major sermon. On the full moon of the third lunar month, seven months after the lord Buddha began his teachings when 1,250 monks came together, with no prior arrangement to hear Buddha preach, Buddha ordained these monks and passed to them the basic principles of Buddhism: To eschew all evil, to do only what is good, and to cleanse the mind, along with other teachings which marked a key event in the development of the religion.
Many Thais will start the day making merit by giving alms to monks in the morning. In the evening, devotees will fill the temples to listen to sermons and partake in the candlelight ceremony known as wien tien, where they walk clockwise three times around the temple holding flowers, incense and a lit candle.
Popular temples to visit on Makha Bucha are Wat Chalong, Wat Phra Thong, Wat Khao Rang, Phuket Big Buddha, Wat Mai Luang Pu Supha and Wat Srisoonthorn.
By law, the sale of alcohol will be prohibited for the 24 hours of this Friday – from 00:01am to 23:59pm.
An announcement by the Prime Minister’s office on Jan 22, 2015 prohibited the sale of alcohol on five religious days: Makha Bucha, Visakha Bucha, Arsarnraha Bucha, Khao Pansa and Wan Org Pansa.
The ban does not include duty free shops at international airports.
Government offices including Immigration, District Offices and the local Department of Land Transportation office will all be closed.
Main branches of banks will be closed, but some bank branches in shopping malls will remain open.
Thailand Post branches and kiosks in shopping malls will remain open as normal, while hospitals will provide emergency and ongoing regular treatments only – ancillary services such as weight loss and skin care will not be available.
All Royal Thai Police and Tourist Police stations will remain open and some local consulates will be open to serve their respective citizens.