Visakha Bucha is a national public holiday during which Buddhists throughout the country traditionally gather at temples to join ceremonies, including the candle-lit processions.
Instead of people joining large gatherings at temples, the Ministry of Culture is advising Buddhists this year to stay home and join ceremonies and festivities to be held online.
“Wherever you are, you can make merit,” the ministry noted in a post online yesterday, ahead of today’s main ceremonies.
Each year on Visakha Bucha Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate three great events on this full moon of the sixth lunar month: The birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha.
Devout Buddhists rise early to visit temples to make merit and listen to sermons on the Buddha’s teachings.
After sunset, candle-lit processions traditionally take place at major temples throughout the country, with devout Buddhists walking clockwise three times around the principal chapel while clasping three incense sticks, a lighted candle and lotus buds. During the “wiang tian” candle processions, the air is filled with burning incense and smoke from the candles as the faithful complete this most sacred of Buddhist celebrations.
On this day, most government offices on the island will be closed, including Phuket Immigration Office, the Employment Office, the Land Transport Office and the island’s three District Offices.
All main bank branches will be closed, but branches in shopping centres will remain open.
All Royal Thai Police and Tourist Police stations will remain open and some local consulates will be open to serve their respective citizens.
Alcohol sales is prohibited throughout the country by law, except at duty-free shops at the airport.
According to an announcement by the Prime Minister’s Office on January 22, 2015, the sale of alcohol is prohibited on five specific religious days: Makha Bucha, Visakha Bucha, Asarnha Bucha Day, Khao Pansa and Wan Org Pansa days.