VISAKHA PUJA DAY. Miss Yaowalak Kunnalak. THE MEANING OF VISAKHA PUJA DAY.
VisakhaPuja Day falls on the full moon day of May (the sixth lunar month) in each year. The word VisakhaPuja comes from the word Visakhapunnamipuja in Pali which means Worshiping on the full moon day of the sixth month. It marks the three important events, occurred in the Buddha’s life, namely; His Birth, His Enlightenment, and His Passing away (Parinibbana).
On the full moon day of May (the sixth lunar month), known as VisakhaPuja Day, before 623 B.C. there was born a young prince, named Siddhattha at Lumbini park between the borders of Kabilavatthu City and Thevathaha City. His father’s name was King Suddhodana, who was the king of Kabilaphattu City. His mother’s name was Queen Sirimahamaya who lived in Thevathaha City. His mother passed away seven days after his birth. He was later taken care by Pajabodi (his mother’s younger sister). Later on when he grew up at the age of 7 years, he was sent to study with Visavamit who was a famous and well-known teacher during that time.
When he was 16 years old, he got married to a very beautiful Princess named Yasodhara or Bimba. Thirteen years after their marriage, they had one son whose name was Rahula. One day while traveling to the Royal Garden, he saw four sights, he saw an old man, a sick man, a dead body, and a monk (a Brahmin monk). These made him realize that only a luxurious life could not let him reach the real happiness of life. Later he renounced a worldly life to be a homeless monk at the bank of Anoma river. After being a homeless monk, he wandered from place to place to seek for the real happiness of life.
When he was 35 years old, on the full moon day of May (the sixth lunar month), he attained enlightenment which means he had founded the real happiness of life. At that time, he was called as the Buddha which means the Awakened One or the Enlightened One. Not soon after his enlightenment, he started to deliver his teachings for the welfare of mankind. He delivered his first teaching to the Panjavakkiya (the Group of Five Monks)- Kondhanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama, and Assaji.
His first teaching was called the Dhammacakkappavattanasutta (setting into the motion of the wheel of Dhamma). After his preaching, Kondhanna, the head of the group, attained the eyes of Dhamma and later asked for the ordination from the Buddha. The Buddha ordained him as the first monk in Buddhism. After that he wandered to preach his teachings for fourty-five years without stopping. And when he was 80 years old, on the full moon day of May (the sixth lunar month), after he had firmly established his teachings to his Orders, he then passed away under the pairs of Sala trees in Kusinara, Malla state.
VisakhaPuja Day is one of the greatest religious holidays which falls on the 15th day of the waxing moon in the 6th lunar month. The significant celebration is held to commemorate the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death (Parinibbana)
In Thailand, as a Buddhist country with His Majesty the King as the Upholder of all Religions, this auspicious day is celebrated throughout the country. Religious flags are flown. Religious ceremonies and merit makings are performed countrywide. Meanwhile, in the countryside people will wake up in the early morning to prepare food and sweets for monks, and at dawn they walk in a long line to the nearby temple where they will spend the greater part of the day in religious activities.
The activities are usually centred around the temple where they attend sermons during the day and in the evening take part in the candle-lit procession that circumambulates the main chapel three times. In the procession, each person carries flowers, three incense sticks and a lighted candle in remembrance of the Triple Gems (The Buddha, His Teaching and His disciples).
On this occasion, a grand religious ceremony is also held at PhutthaMonthon in NakhonPathom Province where the statue of the Walking Buddha is located. Here the candle-lit procession is usually led by a member of the royal family. Buddhists from nearby and other provinces come to take part in the procession and some of them may take the time off to purify their minds through the practice of meditation and listening to the sermons.