The trinity of events is believed to have occurred on the same date on the lunar calendar – albeit in different years.
According to the Thai lunar calendar, the date is observed on the full moon of the sixth month, which tends to fall in May, like this year, and sometimes June.
The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in 1999 to have the occasion internationally recognised as an event for Buddhists worldwide to celebrate altogether.
In Phuket, ceremonies will be held at every temple on the island. Key services will be held at Wat Mongkol Nimit (Wat Klang) in Phuket Town. As the temple is designated as the provincial royal temple, many of the island’s leading officials and dignitaries often attend services there.
The ceremonies at temples across the island will start after 5pm, when devoted Buddhists gather in the main hall to pray and listen to sermons.
After 7pm, monks will lead the traditional Wien Tien procession, circling the bodh, or main ordination hall, carrying candles, incense and lotus flowers.
The monks and their followers will each hold three joss sticks and circle the main hall three times to honour the Buddhist trinity. Services at different temples in Phuket will differ slightly, depending on which of the two principle Thai Buddhist sects the temple is associated with.
Namely, there are Mahanikai (Mahanikaya) and the Dhammayut (Dhammayukti) temples. Mahanikai temples, such as Wat Mongkol Nimit and the famous Wat Chalong (Wat Chaiyathararam) observe the ceremonies described above.
Dhammayut temples, however, differentiate themselves by focusing more on the teachings of the Buddha, with less emphasis on rituals. Dhammayut temples in Phuket include Wat Langsan (Charoen Samanakij temple), Wat Pitak Samanakit and Wat Pa Aram Rattanaram, all in Phuket Town, and Wat Mai Khao at the northern end of the island. These temples will observe only a few ceremonies, including merit making in the morning (at about 6:30am to 7am). In the evening, followers will gather in the main hall to listen to the sermon.
As Visakha Bucha is a holy day, shops, bars and restaurants are barred from selling alcohol for 24 hours from midnight on Sunday night.