Visaka Bucha Day วันวิสาขบูชา
Visaka Bucha Day celebrates the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha. It is said that all three events happened on the same day of the year – the full moon day of the sixth Indian lunar month of Visaka. This year it was celebrated on June 1.
If the idea of these three events happening on the same day sounds like a mythological mystery, try looking at it from a different point of view.
One of my students asked the monk Phra Ajarn Jiew why they were on the same day. His answer was enlightening. He explained that the Buddha was born as a man – Siddhartha. When he became a Buddha, it was like the birthday of the Buddha. When he reached enlightenment, it was like reaching nibbana, which is the ultimate state passing from one lifetime to the next. All three on the same day.
On the evening of Visaka Bucha I joined other Buddhists walking around the main shrine of Wat Chedi Luang three times, in honor of the triple gem of Buddhism: the Buddha, his teachings (dhamma), and the community of followers (sangha). This circumambulation is called wian tian.
Wat Chedi Luang is significant to me because it’s where I celebrated my birthday 15 years ago by lighting off a komloy (paper lantern). It’s one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai and there is something definitively sacred about it.
At Wat Phantao a group of young monks sitting in meditation with candles lit on the water and all around them. (Sorry for the blurry pictures – they were taken with my iPod)