THAI CANDLE FESTIVAL
The Candle Festival in Thailand is the beginning of Buddhist Lent celebration and it is usually in July. Various community groups, schools, universities and public and private organizations organize colourful candle processions, music and dancing, leading to a temple where the offering of the candles will be made.
The parades throughout Thailand often start in the afternoon or late mornings. At night most go to see the candles throughout the Kingdom. Many Thai people will go to the temple and carry small candles, incense and flowers often walking 3 times slowly, clockwise around the main Buddhist hall while making wishes.
The Asanha Puja Day is one of the most sacred days for Buddhists as it marks the coming into existence of the Triple Gem, namely: the Lord Buddha, his teachings and his disciples. The day falls on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eight lunar month (July). It is an anniversary of the day on which Lord Buddha delivered the first sermon to his first five disciples at the Deer Park in Benares over 2500 years ago.
To observe this auspicious day, Buddhists all over the country perform merit-making and observe Silas (Precepts). Some go to the temples to offer food and other offerings to the monks and also listen to a sermons.
The tradition of Buddhist Lent or the annual three-month Rains Retreat know in Thai as “Phansa” dates back to the time of early Buddhism found in ancient India. Holy men, usually spent three months of the annual rainy season in permanent dwellings or Buddhist wats. Some say that they avoided unnecessary travel during this time to avoid stepping on newly planted plants. Lord Buddha also wanted his followers to follow this tradition, so they began to gather in groups in simple dwellings.
Buddhist Lent covers a good part of the rainy season and lasts three lunar months. In Thailand, Buddhist monks stay in a temple of their choice and will not take an travel to another temple until their Buddhist Lent is over.
Some Buddhists followers consider the beginning of Buddhist Lent as a time for making resolutions such as refraining from smoking or observing five precepts (Panjasila) throughout the three-month Rains Retreat.