Buddhist Lent Day

Khao Phansa Festival

July 14 - October 10, 2003


Buddhist Lent Day is a period of three lunar months during the rainy season when monks are required to remain in one particular place or wat (temple). Khao Phansa Day is on the first day after the full moon of the eighth lunar month (this year is on July 14th,2003) and marks the beginning of the three-month Buddhist 'lent' period. The tradition of Buddhist Lent or the annual three-month rains retreat known in Thai as "Phansa". Khao Phansa means to remain in one place during the rainy season. Phansa represents a time of renewed spiritual vigor and Khao Phansa festival is a major Buddhism merit-making festival.

The day before Khao Phunsa Day is Asalha Puja Day. The day falls on the full moon of the eighth lunar month (July 13th,2003). This day is also very important in Buddhism. It was on this day that the Lord Buddha preached His sermon to followers after attaining enlightenment. The day is usually celebrated by merit making, listening to a monk's sermon, and joining a candle lit procession during the night.

During Khao Phunsa period monks should not venture out or spend the night in any other place except in cases of extreme emergency and, even then, their time away must not exceed seven consecutive nights. This is a time for contemplation and meditation for monk. The mork meditates more, studies more and teaches more. For Buddist Phansa is also customarily the season for temporary ordinations. Young men enter the monkhood for spiritual training, to gain merit for for themselves and their parents, it is a feeling that a man who has been a monk cannot be considered a mature adulf.

Ok Phansa Day marks the end of the Buddhist lent and falls on the full moon of the eleventh lunar month (October 10th,2003). This is a day of joyful celebration and merit-making too. For Thai families, it is also the day they welcome a son back into the home and celebrate his successful completion of a term in the temple.


The very beautiful carved candle decorated with Naga motif
Two main important things will present to monks during Khao Pansa are the candles and garments worn by monks, especifically the bathing robe. The candles were essential in former times for both ceremonies and studying scriptures during night time. The large candles that are made and given to the temple to create illumination in the belief that such a gift will likewise illuminate the mind. The presentation of garments worn by monks is said to have originated from methods of bathing in former times commonly done in community areas using streams, rivers, ponds and other sources of water with monks requiring a bathing robe. The garments worn by monks continued to develop until the custom included presenting the entire arrangement worn by monks
Not only local people presents the candle to monk, some province in the Northeast of Thailand especially Ubon Ratchathanee province. In Ubon Ratchathanee, 629 km northeast of Bangkok, the Candle Festival is the province's most popular annual event. The cerebration of the beginning of Buddhist Lent is marked by the ceremony of presenting candles to the monks. Various public and private organizations will organize a colorful candle processing. On the days before the event, Isan local arts make ornately carved beeswax candles of various sizes and shapes. On the day of the festival, the fabulous candles are paraded around the town on colorful floats, accompanied by displays of religious devotion. After the procession, they are presented to local temples.
At Sakonnakhorn province, the beautiful embellished beeswax candles were designed in different castle shapes. In this province, the wax castle celebration will start on the third day before the Buddhist Lent will be over. The wax castle procession will be organized and the religious ceremony will be on the last of Buddhist Lent (Ok Phunsa day). The story of History of Beeswax will be displayed next update.

The beautiful Beeswax castle at Sakhonakorn province
The story of Beeswax castle of Sakhonakorn will be displayed next September
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The parade of beautiful decorated carved candles in different styles at Ubon Ratchathani province during Khao Phunsa festival