At Thai Terre, when we write these blogs, we like to share with you all the news about what is going on in both our homes. For instance, in East Dean we have been enjoying the lovely weather by lying in the sun in our gardens, taking walks around the village green, eating ice-cream, and playing outside with our pets and our families.
But in our other home, Thailand, preparations are underway for a special celebration. On 20th May Thai Buddhists will be celebrating Visakha Bucha Day, also known as Buddha’s Birthday. This is a little bit complicated, because it isn’t actually Buddha’s birthday but the new moon of the Hindu month of Vaisakha, and we aren’t actually celebrating Buddha’s birthday anyway, but his whole life, his attainment of nirvana in his lifetime, and his attainment of parinirvana after his death.
Although Visakha Bucha Day is a national holiday, everyone still gets up early to go to the temple, where they sing hymns, raise flags, pour water over a statue of Buddha to symbolise the washing away of their own bad karma, and make offerings to Buddha and to their teachers and elders in Buddha’s honour. These offerings are usually small things like flowers, candles, or incense and represent the transience of life as flowers wither and die, and candles and incense are soon burned out. But Visakha Bucha Day is also a celebration of life. No killing must take place on this day, and many Buddhists will only eat vegetarian food. Some people also release birds or animals as a celebration of freedom, or bring happiness to others by distributing food and money to the poor and the elderly.