From Thu Jul 1 11:11:57 1993
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 93 14:07 EDT
Subject: some pre-FMR thoughts

Full Moon Rituals in Other Cultures

I was talking to Brian and Leah on vrave the other night, and suddenly I remembered a few things about Thai Buddhism that I thought you all might be interested in, seeing as our FMRs (San Francisco AND New Jersey) are tomorrow night.

This is quoted, without permission of course, from the Insight Cityguide for Bangkok.

Present-day Thais practice Theravada Buddhism, also known as Hinayana or Lesser Vehicle, Buddhism.

Three Thai holidays -- Magha Puja in February, Visakha Puja in May/June, and Asalaha Puja in July -- occur on full moon nights and celebrate important events in the Buddha's life. Buddhists througout Bangkok gather at their nearby wat (temple) shortly after dusk to hear special sermons. They then claps their hands together before their faces, their fingers twined about with flowers, incense sticks, and candles, and as the full moon is rising, follow the monks in a procession three times around the bot (central building on the temple grounds). It is a magical, mystical night, made even more enjoyable for the visitor by the Thai penchant fo welcoming outsiders' participation in their ceremonies, helping them with the particulars of buying candles and lighting incense.

Magha Puja is a public holiday in Bangkok and a Buddhist holiday marking the spontaneous gathering of 1,200 disciples to hear the Lord Buddha preach. In the evening, Thais gather at temples to hear a sermon by the chief monk of the wat. Then, when the moon is rising, they place their hands in a praying position before their faces and, clapsing candles, incense, and flowers in them, follow the chanting monks around the bot of the wat three times before placing their candles and incense in trays at the front of the bot. It is one of the most solemn and moving ceremonies in Bangkok.

Visakha Puja, a public holiday, commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. The three things are all said to have happened on the same day. Visakha Puja is celebrated like Magha Puja with a triple circumambulation around the temple as the moon is rising.

Asalaha Puja is the third most important Buddhist holiday and marks the occaison when Buddha preaced to his first five disciples. It is celebrated on the full moon night in similar manner to Magha Puja and Visakha Puja.

Happy FMR!!!!

Love and community,