HIS MAJESTY the King assigned Privy Councillor Ampol Senanarong to lead the candlelit procession around a giant Buddha statue at Buddha Mondhol in Nakhon Pathom to celebrate Visakha Bucha Day yesterday.
Acting Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, who is also caretaker commerce minister, joined the solemn religious occasion.
Visakha Bucha or Vesak Day falls on the full moon of the sixth lunar month each year to mark Lord Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death.
As this holy day is very sacred, Buddhists across the country spent the day performing various rituals.
International Vesak Day, endorsed by the United Nations, is also commemorated worldwide.
The National Buddhism Office, for example, held an alms-giving ceremony at Buddha Mondhol.
At 9.09am, His Majesty’s principal private secretary Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn and Indian Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla planted a mahabodhi seedling at Buddha Mondhol.
The mahabodhi tree is closely associated with nirvana – the ultimate goal of all Buddhists.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presented the mahabodhi seedling from Bodh Gaya, India, to His Majesty during his official visit to Thailand late last year.
Elsewhere, various Buddhist activities also took place. In Bangkok’s Sanam Luang, a large group of worshippers presented alms to 232 monks in the morning.
Many children joined the dharma contest, prayers and lotus-folding activity.
According to the Religious Affairs Department, more than 4,000 people joined its pilgrimage to nine temples since Sunday.
Even in the southernmost province of Yala, more than 500 Buddhists gathered at the Phra Maha That Chedi at a royal monastery in Muang district to give alms to monks.
Also present were Yala Governor Dejrat Simsiri and Fourth Army Area chief Valit Rojanaphakdi.
Anti-government protesters gathering at the People’s Democratic Reform Committee rally site near the Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge also gave alms to monks to honour Visakha Bucha Day.