Visakha Bucha Day marked across Thailand

The Nation, May 18, 2011

Bangkok, Thailand -- Buddhists across the country yesterday observed religious rites, giving alms to monks in the morning and saying prayers at temples later in the day to celebrate Visakha Bucha Day.

In the Muslim South, where violent attacks are common, security was tight at temples to guard against possible attacks.

Some 500 Buddhists gathered in Yala's Muang district to dedicate merit to Buddhist victims of violence over the past year.

Candlelit walks at temples in risky areas were held in the late afternoon during daylight hours to minimise the risk of attacks, instead of in the late evening when darkness would have made security measures more difficult.

At the Emerald Buddha temple in Bangkok, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over a ceremony at 6pm, while a privy councillor led the official candlelit walk in place of HRH Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who leads the walk every year.

In place of Sanam Luang as the regular venue, Bangkok Governor Sukhumband Paribatra led an almsgiving ceremony for 229 monks at the 11th Infantry Regiment compound in the north of the capital.

The sevenday Visakha Bucha exhibition at the compound came to an end yesterday, with the closing ceremony held at 6pm and the holy relics of Buddha ushered back to the Grand Palace at 9pm. Hundreds of Burmese Buddhists in Tak province in the North ushered 25 ancient Buddha images around Mae Sot district in a ceremony jointly participated in by locals.

Official ceremonies were held at city halls in all provinces, with prayers said and merit made and dedicated at charity events.

Circumambulatory candlelit walks were held at most temples across the country. In Phetchabun, a marathon "running and walking meditation to worship the Buddha" event was also held.