Magha puja day is considered one of the most important Buddhist celebrations. It refers to the worship that takes place on the full moon of the third lunar month (about the last week of February or early March) to commemorate the day on which Lord Buddha recited the "Ovadha Patimokkha" (the Fundamental Teaching) to his disciples.
This day marks the great four events that took place during Lord Buddha's lifetime, namely;
The time of the full moon in the third lunar month,
1,250 Buddhist monks from differents places came to pay homage to the Lord Buddha at Veluwan Temple in Rajgaha City of Magaha State, without any appointment,
all of them were Arahants (enlightened monks) who had attained the Apinyas (Six Higher Knowledges),
all of them had been individually ordained by Lord Buddha himself (Ehi Bhikkhu).
Later, the Magha Puja ceremony was widely accepted and performed throughout the country.
The evening of that day, Lord Buddha gave the assembly a discourse "Ovadha Patimokkha",laying down the principles of His Teachings to be followed by all Buddhists, summarized into three acts, i.e. to do good, to abstain from bad action and to purify the mind.
Magha Puja Day was never celebrated in Thai kingdom. King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) explained that "..the Magha Puja was never performed, the ceremony has just been practised during the reign of King Mongkrut (Rama IV) of the Chakri Dynasty". Having realized the importance of this day, King Rama IV ordered the royal Magha Puja Ceremony to be performed in the Emerald Buddha Temple in 1851 and to celebrate it yearly.
Later the ceremony was widely accepted and performed throughout the kingdom. It was declared to be a public holiday back then so everybody could go to the temple to merit and perform other religious activities in the morning and to take part in the candlelit procession or"Wien Tien" in the evening.
I set my alarm for 5am to drive out to witness this spectacular site of Buddhism. There were actually about 10,000+ Buddhist monks participating in this yearly ceremony. The first picture on this post was taken at 5:30am
I've never seen so many saffron robes in my life. It was amazing how quiet this place was despite the enormous amount of people here.
These are alms bowls that the Buddhist monks fill daily with food solely from the generosity of the Thai people. The Thai people in turn gain merit by giving food to the monks.
People came out in throngs, some of the little ones were a little tired but awfully cute!
The Thai people praying and paying their respects during the ceremony. The monks recited a chant for about 20 minutes and then they formed long lines to receive food from the observers
It was an incredible site to see so many people fill the streets.
I liked this shot for its surreal ghost like appearance. These two shots were taken earlier in the morning. Everywhere I looked I kept seeing monks coming from the side streets to take their place. It felt like they were never going to stop coming.
It was interesting to see the wide age ranges of the monks. Some of the monks looked like they were around 8 or 9 years old and some were obviously pretty old.
There was a stage set up in the middle of the street with monks sitting in chairs on each side of the stage. 5,000+ on one side and another 5,000+ monks on the other. They had 4 senior monks on stage performing the ceremony
This is my good friend Rachel who lives on this street and was not originally intending to watch this ceremony, but she had no choice because the whole street was blocked off and she couldn't really go anywhere. She lives on the 2nd floor of this building and I wanted to get some overhead shots. I asked if I could go up to her apartment to get some good shots. We were standing next to her landlord who has an apartment on the 6th floor and he offered his place to take pictures. What a great guy!
This picture is looking in the other direction. All that orange is the thousands of monks. AMAZING!!!!
This is the last shot I took before leaving. I had to go because I am the under 11 year old girls basketball coach and we had a practice that morning.
I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to witness such a spectacular display of the Buddhist religion in action. Something I would never see in America.