Bangkok, Thailand -- Thailand's Department of Religious Affairs is asking schools nationwide to lead students to practice Dhamma at temples on Makha Bucha Day to divert their attention from mainstream culture's celebration of Valentine's Day, Department Director-General Preecha Kanthiya said Wednesday.
The department has asked all provincial culture offices to co-ordinate with local schools in organising religious activities for students, including Dhamma teaching by monks, either in schools or nearby temples Feb 13-15.
In addition, the department will co-operate with the World Buddhist University to organise a grand Buddhist sermon and celebration at Sanam Luang during the same period.
Makha Bucha Day takes place on the full moon of the third lunar month, commemorating the day Lord Buddha recited the "Ovadha Patimakkha" (Fundamental Teaching) to his disciples. This year Makha Bucha Day falls on Feb 13, one day before Valentine's Day.
According to the Department of Religious Affairs Director-General, Buddhist- related activities to be attended by students nationwide would help reduce the younger generation's enthusiasm for Valentine's Day, considered as a western materialist cultural intrusion.
"Instead of letting our young people become obsessed with the day of love," Mr. Preecha said, "we should enrich their minds and souls with Dhamma teaching that will keep their lives healthy, both morally and spiritually," he said.