Makha Bucha is an important religious holiday celebrated in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It is a day to honor the Buddha and his teachings, and is observed on the full moon day of the third lunar month. In 2023, Makha Bucha will be celebrated on February 24th.
Date: 24 February
When celebrated: Full moon day of the 3rd lunar month
Magha Puja Day in Thailand: Friday, 24 February
Significance: Day of honoring Lord Buddha, reaffirming commitment to Buddha practices
Also called: Magha Puja Day, Sangha Day, Four Fold Assembly Day
Holiday type: Buddhist Religious Holiday
Observed by: Buddhists in SouthEast Asian countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Burma
Observances: Exchanging gifts, engaging in Buddha worship rituals, candlelight processions, observing Eight Precepts, staying away from bad actions, meditation, reaffirmation of a pledge to Buddhist practice
This Day (24 February) marks: Magha Puja Day, Makha Bucha Day, Sangha Day, Magha Puja Festival
Magha Puja or Sangha Day is the second most famous Buddhist festival, celebrated with great enthusiasm and religious fervor. Worldwide celebrations are held in honor of the Buddhist community, with major observances in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Sri Lanka. The Magha Puja festival is an ideal opportunity for people to reaffirm their devotion to Buddhist practices, customs, and traditions.
This Magha Puja article here covers all the highlights of Magha Puja or Sangha Day.
Makha Bucha Day (Magha Puja) Meaning: What is Makha Bucha Day?
Makha Bucha (also spelled Magha Puja) is a vital Buddhist celebration that happens on the full moon day of the month of Magha in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. According to the Gregorian Calendar, this day usually falls in February or March.
*Do you know? Makha Bucha Day is known by five different names: Magha Puja, Sangha Day, Fourfold Assembly Day, Magha Puranam.
Makha Bucha Day is the most important Buddhist celebration. The purpose of the Magha Puja Day Festival is to pay tribute to the Sangha, or the Buddhist community. It is an opportunity for individuals to reaffirm their adherence to Buddhist practices and customs.
Do many people ask what is Magha Puja Day and what does Magha Puja mean? The answer is simple – Makha Bucha or Magha Puja Day celebrates the spontaneous assembling of 1,250 intellectual monks (arahants) to hear the Buddha lecture at Veluvana Vihara. At this assembling, the Buddha delivered his first sermon, the recitation of the Patimokkha (the Fundamental Teaching).
Sangha is the term utilized for the Buddhist spiritual community. On this day, Buddhists celebrate both the idea of making a spiritual community and furthermore the real spiritual community which they are attempting to make. The Sangha is valuable in Buddhism as without those in the network to look up to or share yearnings with, the spiritual life would be exceptionally challenging.
Makha Bucha Day is a convenient time for exchange of endowments; it has turned into a noticeable celebration among Western Buddhists despite the fact that it is less known in the East. Festivities include reciting, the lighting of oil lamps, meditation, chanting Mantras and the reaffirmation of people’s pledge to Buddhist practice.
Makha Bucha Day (Magha Puja or Sangha Day): Date & Time
Want to know when is Magha Puja or Makha Bucha Day? If you are searching for when is Magha Puja Day in Thailand or Sangha Day in your country, we’ve got you covered. Have a look at the updated Calendar, Date & Time for Magha Puja Day.
- Makha Bucha Day in Thailand: February 24th
Makha Bucha Day History: What is the background of this Magha Puja Buddhist Festival?
Makha Bucha Day, also called Sangha Day, is an important uposatha or sacred day observed by most Buddhists on the primary full moon day of the third lunar month, at some point in February or March.
Makha Bucha is praised to honor four beneficial things that occurred in the Buddhism history around 2,500 years ago. The celebration denotes the spontaneous assembling of 1250 monks from around the globe to pay reverence to Lord Buddha, who recited the Ovada Patimokkha – The Fundamental Teaching – to his followers.
The principal reasons why this Magha Puja is celebrated include:
- Around 1,250 Buddhist monks met unexpectedly with no earlier planning
- The 1,250 Buddhist were enlightened monks
- All of them was appointed personally by the Buddha
- This occurred on the full moon, the first in March which is the month of Magha
The Buddha gave his first sermon on this day – The Ovada Patimokkha – to stop all evil, to do what is great, and to purify one’s mind – which set out the principles of Buddhism. The Buddha also stated that he would pass away in three months, so some trust that the Buddha may have used this occasion to make this declaration.
In early times, Magha Puja day was never celebrated in the Thai kingdom; it was just been practiced by the Buddha community. It was during the reign of King Rama IV, when he understanding the significance of this day, requested the royal Makha Bucha Day to be performed in the Emerald Buddha Temple in 1851 and to celebrate it annually.
Later the auspicious event was broadly acknowledged and performed all through the kingdom. It was announced to be a public holiday so everyone could go to the temple and take part in worship rituals.
Read How Peoples Celebrates A Happy Valentine’s Day on 14th of February
Makha Bucha Day Celebrations: How is Happy Magha Puja celebrated?
Makha Bucha Day festivity is the greatest and most anxiously anticipated of all festivals in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asian nations like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar celebrate the day with incredible excitement and religious enthusiasm. The day is praised in the third lunar calendar month – typically late February or early March – on a full moon.
On this day, the followers of Buddha assemble at sanctuaries, typically toward the beginning of the day, carrying with them offerings of food for the monks or priests. Monastics recite the Ovada-Patimokkha Gatha, which is a summary of the Buddha’s lessons.
At each Buddhist temple, Buddhists assemble after dark. They bring flowers, incense, and candles. With candles lit, they circle the temple’s main lobby three times, once for every one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Sangha, and the Dharma (the lessons of the Buddha). The moon is splendid, and the candles gleam in the night as they’re carried clockwise the uposatha corridor.
The largest Makha Bucha Day celebrations are held in Thailand, where millions of Thai Buddhists wake up early and offer alms to monks, follow the Eight Precepts, practice renunciation, and meditate. At night, monastics give Dhamma converses to followers and perform important rituals.
On the night of Magha full-moon day, every temple in Thailand holds a candlelight parade to praise the Magha Puja day. Seeing 100,000 lit candles and a large amount of devotees assembling to spread happiness is amazing.
One of the biggest festivals in Thailand is held at the temple Wat Phra Dhammakaya, which has an alms-round ceremony for more than 1,000 monks followed by meditation sessions and the offering of Sanghadana to the religious community. The day finishes up with a noteworthy execution called the “Magha Lantern Lighting Service” as an offering of regard and love to the Buddha.
Like Laos, Cambodia and Sri Lanka also pursue Theravada Buddhism, like in Thailand, Magha Puja day is one of the major occasions in these nations. They celebrate the festival with a progression of religious activities, for example, reciting, making offerings, and candle-bearing. Thousands of people visit temples to attend important ceremonies and take part in Buddhist activities.
In Myanmar, Magha Puja is known as the “full moon of Tabaung or Tabodwe.” It starts at the new moon of the traditional Burmese month of Tabodwe and proceeds until the full moon. The celebration takes place in sanctuaries across the nation over with a nakyake shiatsu ceremony of offerings to the 28 Buddhas, trailed by a ten-day recital of the Patthana (a Buddhist scripture). It’s a day when Buddhists visit temples, make offerings to the monks, observe fast or eat modestly, perform good deeds, and stay away from negative and discourteous activities.
Happy Makha Bucha Day Customs & Traditions: What happens on this day?
Happy Makha Bucha Day (Magha Puja Day or Sangha Day) is celebrated across the globe with gift exchanges, meditation, the lighting of oil lamps, going to temples for important rituals observances and taking part in Buddhist religious activities. At night, every Buddhist temple holds a candlelight procession while holding flowers and incenses. The congregation members circle the Uposatha Hall multiple times to represent the Three Jewels.
Individuals observe the Eight Precepts, practice meditation, and mental discipline and wear white robes for various days. Everybody pursues Buddhist customs and clean their home well before the day arrives. It is done to show respect for the upcoming heavenly day. And afterward, watch the Eight Precepts which are:
- To keep away from taking what isn’t given
- To keep away from sexual misconduct
- To keep away from telling lies
- To keep away from fermented intoxicants and drugs, which can cause drowsiness or carelessness
- To keep away from taking the lives of living creatures
- To keep away from eating at improper times (afternoon)
- To abstain from singing, music, dancing, wearing garlands, using fragrances, makeup, and cosmetics
- To keep away from high and large seats and beds
For some Buddhist groups, there might be a progression of gatherings to discuss different lessons, group meditations, discussions by senior individuals from the Buddhist community and an assortment of different events over a period of a few days.
Makha Bucha Day Holiday: Is it a public holiday?
Makha Bucha Day is a public holiday in SouthEast Asian countries like Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. Most educational institutes, government offices, private buildings, and businesses are closed on this day.
Makha Bucha Day Importance: Why is the Sangha important?
Festivals like Magha Puja Day are a celebration which helps break the tedium of life and bring harmony, happiness, and peace to the general population. On Makha Bucha or Sangha Day, social hierarchies and class are diminished, with individuals from varying backgrounds and personal distinctions congregating to remember the Buddha and his incredible lessons.
The day emphatically symbolizes the capacity of the general population of various nations to unite together, bound by similar beliefs and customs. It is also an event to observe Buddhist traditions and practices.
Makha Bucha Day/Magha Puja Day: Quick Facts
Sangha Day or Makha Bucha Day recognizes when 1,250 enlightened monks, supporters of the Buddha, spontaneously came together to honor the Buddha. This was huge on the grounds because:
- Every one of the monks was arhats
- Every one of the monks had been ordained by the Buddha
- The monks met up as though by possibility, with no planning or earlier appointment
- It was held on the full moon day of Magha (the third lunar month).
When the monks were all gathered together, the Buddha conveyed a message called the Ovada Patimokkha in which he requested that the monks do good deeds, keep away from bad activities, and purify their souls and mind.