Visakha Puja Day…through Pictures

Back when I first got to Thailand I was told that Thais had lots of holidays and celebrations: “no different than Mexico”, I thought. But oh boy was I wrong! They sure celebrate tons of things; they have buddhist holidays almost every other week!!  I try to participate or attend every celebration that goes on here at Wat Doi Saket, and every time I think: “this is the largest one”..and then…..no, no, no…”this one is the largest one”….well….Visakha Day came to prove me wrong once again; it was without a doubt, the largest celebration I have seen in this monastery….ok..so far….=).

Buddhist countries celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death on the same day and it is called ‘Visakha Puja Day”. Over 200,000 people walked up to Wat Doi Suthep, the most important monastery in Chiang Mai. Here in Doi Saket hundreds of people and monks gathered in the center of town and walked up to the temple. It was a hot day but everyone looked cheerful and happy. It is traditional for lay people and monks to walk up to a Wat to make merit.

The word ‘merit’ in English does not seem to be the proper word for what it means in Sanskrit. “Puṇya” is something that accumulates or arises as a result of performing good deeds, acts or thoughts in a constructive way and which then carries on later in life or next life. It is like developing ‘goodness’.

“The practices shown here by themselves do not produce any direct benefits. However, when performed with good intention (not with the ulterior motive of obtaining some selfish benefit) they have the effect of enhancing devotion (saddha) and the purity of the mind. The value of such practices comes from individual effort, not from any external power.”

Mmmm…….I think that it would be much easier if I tell you about this day through a series of pictures. So, here is a Gallery of Photos with explanations. Hope you enjoy them and can get a sense of what I was lucky to experience.

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