March 7, 2012

Today is Makha Bucha Day, a public holiday in Thailand, which commemorates two historical events that happened 2,500 years ago. Makha Bucha Day is observed on the full moon of the third lunar month; usually in late February or early March. In other Buddhist countries, it is observed a month later. Those in Thailand will note that all bars are closed and the sale of alcohol is prohibited.

So, what exactly does this holiday commemorate? We’ll have to go back about 2,500 years ago during the early days of Buddhism. Two significant events happened on the same lunar calendar date 45 years apart. The first event happened seven years after the Buddha began teaching. At this time, 1,250 monks from all around Asia, met and were ordained by the Buddha. The second event occurred 45 years later when the Buddha spread his teachings, including the Patimokkha Exhortation Verse containing the famous proverb “Not doing any evil, doing what is skillful, purifying one’s own mind, this is the Buddha’s teaching,” only shortly before died.

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