Their Majesties the King and Queen perform a wian tian ceremony at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to mark Visakha Puja Day.
This is the holiest day of all Buddhist days marking the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of the Lord Buddha. Buddhists will make merits and attend sermons at the temples (Wat). In the evening, Buddhist monks lead the laity in a magnificent candle-light triple circumambulation of Buddhist chapelss throughout the country.
Visakha Puja, the year's greatest religious holiday, which commemorates the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death, comes during seeding and plowing. Village elders attend temple celebrations and sermons during the day. Those who have been working all day in the fields return at dusk to join the lovely candle or torchlit procession that circumambulates the temple chapel three times. Enacted in every village, town and city wat, each person carries flowers, three glowing incense sticks and a lighted candle in silent homage to the Buddha, his teaching and his disciples.
Shortly after transplanting is completed, the annual monsoons arrive to inundate farmland. Daily rainfall replenishes the fields and much of the family's time becomes occupied with Rains Retreat observances.
During the annual three-month Rains Retreat (Phasa in Thai), Buddhist monks are committed to remaining in their monasteries overnight. The tradition predates Buddhism. In ancient India, all holy months of the annual rainy season in permanent dwellings. They avoieded unnecessary travel during the period when crops were still new for fear they might accidentally tread on young plants.
In deference to popular opinion, the Buddha decreed that his follows should also abide by this ancient tradition. This initiated a move away from an itinerant life to a more or less settled existence as the advantages of communal living became apparent. Similar monasteries were founded in other countries where Buddhism became established
Phansa represents a time of renewed spiritual vigor. The mork meditates more, studies more and teaches more. Laymen, too, traditionally, endeavor to be more conscientious, perhap abstaining from liquor and cigarettes and giving extra financial and physical support to their local monasteries. Phansa is also customarily the
season for temporary ordinations. Young men enter the monkhood for spiritual training, to gain merit for for themselves and their parents, and to conform to the widespread feeling that a man who has been a monk cannot be considered a mature adulf. In some areas, a man who has never been a mork is avoided by marriageabe girls, who regard him as khon dip or and 'unrire person'.
The Buddhist ordination is a mixture of religious solemnity, merit-making and boisterous celebration reflecting a Thai belief that the three most important events of a man's life are this birth, his ordination and his marriage. The ordination ritual ifself evolved over 2,500 years ago during
the Buddha's life as the Sangha (the Buddhist monastic oder) took from and has changed little to this day. Socially, the ordination is something in which the entire village participates. Village monks comprise the presiding chapter chapter and preceptors. Villagers
gain merit by accompanying the tonsured, whiterobed candidate for monkhood (known as the nak in a colorful procession to the monastery. Small children join the procession which is often marked by joyous dancing and the heady throb of long drums.