Makha Bucha Day 2024

Makha Bucha Day (also, Magha Puja) is a religious celebration marking Lord Buddha’s teachings to his disciples that falls on Febrary 24th, 2024.
Thailand
24 February 2024

VIEWS

0

SHARES

Makha Bucha Day (also, Magha Puja) is a religious celebration marking Lord Buddha’s teachings to his disciples. 

As with most Thai religious holidays, Makha Bucha is celebrated according to the traditional lunar calendar, on the day of the full moon of the third lunar month. Though specific dates may vary, the event usually takes place in late February or early March. This year’s Makha Bucha Day falls on February 24th.

Where did the name come from?

The term makha comes from the word “Magha” in Pali and it refers to the third lunar month, while bucha can translate as “to worship,” both of which are derived from the Pali language used in Buddhist scripture. Therefore, the term Makha Bucha refers to a day intended for worshiping on the third lunar month.

Fourfold Assembly Day

A graphic of Lord Buddha sitting on a rock under the Bodhi tree and surrounded by monks
Source: Thai vector studio / Shutterstock.com

According to Buddhist lore, the event that Makha Bucha commemorates occurred at the Veluwan temple, India. Lord Buddha delivered his fundamental teachings or Ovada Patimokkha to his disciples. As the story goes, this meeting consist of four phenomena:

1. The event occurred on the day of a full moon during the third lunar month.
2. A total of 1,250 disciples gathered spontaneously, without prior appointment.
3. All of the disciples were “arahants,” or enlightened disciples.
4. All have been ordained by Buddha, making them his direct spiritual descendants.

Due to this chain of events, the meeting is referred to as the Chaturangasannibat or the Fourfold Assembly and is considered a religious miracle in Buddhist lore.

Historical celebrations

Historical celebrations of Makha Bucha are relatively obscure, but modern iterations can be traced back to the reign of King Rama IV, who formally decreed the tradition in 1851. Initially, the event was held in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, where only those residing in the palace were allowed to enter. 

This practice was then expanded under King Rama V, who believed that the celebration could be used to promote the faith in Thailand. The event itself was then established as an official public holiday in 1913, and has since been widely celebrated across the Kingdom.

Makha Bucha in Thailand

Thai monks standing and holding lighted candles in a Buddhist ceremony on Makha Bucha Day
Source: Tavarius / Shutterstock.com

Although not as prominent as in the past, the event nowadays is celebrated by Buddhists far and wide, including in countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.

In Thailand, temples often organize wian thian or a candlelight procession around the ordination hall three times on the evening of Makha Bucha. Other traditions include giving alms, meditation, listening to Buddhist sermons, as well as closer adherence to the practice of the five precepts, including abstaining from alcohol.