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Makha Bucha in Chiang Mai

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Chiang Mai

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 20/05/2024, 18:00

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Yesterday we celebrated Makha Bucha Day, one of the most important Buddhist holidays.

It is celebrated on the full moon day of the third lunar month of the Buddhist calendar. It commemorates the Buddha and his teachings. The spiritual aim of the day is not to commit any sins (therefore alcohol is forbidden on that day), do only good, and purify one’s mind.

The day starts with offering alms to the monks and finishes with candlelight processions in the local temples in the evening. Every devotee, who attends the evening ceremony, burns incense, and holding those, flowers, and a lighten candle walks around the temple clockwise three times (each one for one of the jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha), while chanting and praying. The candles, flowers, and incense is then offered to the Buddha statues.

During the whole evening the monks chant and pray with the people in the temples. Quite a lot of those, who visit the temples on that day, wear white robes, which means they will stay with the monks to pray for a number of days.

Every single temple in Chiang Mai holds the procession and the prayers. My 3 best temples to go to are: Wat Umong, Wat Jed Yod and Wat Chedi Luang.

This year I went to Wat Jed Yod, which was pretty amazing. There were lots of people and the atmosphere reminded me of important Catholic celebrations in Poland – you could almost touch the seriousness and the spirituality that hovered in the air. I managed to snap a couple of decent photos, although I don’t think they actually give away the whole atmosphere. I actually have a mental blockade when it comes to taking photos of praying people. I don’t want to disturb them. I would make a pretty bad photographer.

I also went to Wat Umong, but unfortunately I was late, and the celebrations were finished. I took one photo, which I think it is not that great, but decided to post it here anyway.

People gathering for prayer at Wat Jed Yod during Makha Bucha

The crowd gathered for prayers at Wat Jed Yod.

Father and child lighting a candle during Makha Bucha in Chiang Mai

Children and adults alike come to pray at the temple during Makha Bucha.

Woman lighting a candle during Makha Bucha in Chiang Mai

The devotees place candles on little altars in front of depictions of Buddha

People lighting candles during Makha Bucha in Chiang Mai

There are big ‘pots’ where incense are left to die out. The air is saturated with the sweet smell.

Woman burning a candle during Makha Bukha

Candle burning continues until late at night…