During the full moon of this month we celebrate the religious holiday of Asarnha Bucha Day. The following day marks the start of the Rains Retreat which is sometimes referred to as the Buddhist Lent. It lasts for about three months. This year it runs from 23rd July to 19th October 2013. Most schools and organizations around Thailand organize a Candle Parade to their local temple. The candle is usually about two meters tall and is meant to stay alight for the full three months of the Rains Retreat. During this period the monks are not allowed to wander or leave their temples. It is a time for study and meditation.
Over the next few days there will be quite a few parades through the town as students head towards their local temple to present the monks with a Lent Candle and other essential items. Usually these are led by the school band so you hear them coming from afar. My local school bussed the students to a temple further away as they have too many schools in their area. Once there they then took part in a “wien tien” which is a procession around the ordination chapel three times in a clockwise direction. This was led by the school band and the Lent Candle. Following behind were about 100 students.
After the procession, they all went into the main sala where nine monks were waiting for them. The basic essentials, the Lent Candle and also over 100,000 baht in money was then offered to the monks and the temple. There was then some chanting and a sermon from the abbot. Waiting in the wings were a couple dozen students from another school. At popular temples you often have to wait your turn. Asarnha Bucha Day is on Monday and then Khao Phansa is on Tuesday. This makes it a four day weekend. This year I will be taking pictures of the festival in Phak Hai District in Ayutthaya. They take their candle to the local temple on a flotilla of boats (see here).