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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Thailand, Lesson 8 – Visakha Bucha Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Thailand Series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Thai holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 8, Visakha Bucha Day. In Thai, it’s called วันวิสาขบูชา (wan wí-săa-khà-buu-chaa).
In this lesson, we're going to discuss another important day for Buddhists – Vesak Day – which falls on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon in the sixth month every year. This day was designated as one of many globally important days by the United Nations. More than 90% of Thai people are Buddhists. Therefore, this day is an important holiday for the commemoration of the teachings of Buddha.
You must be interested by now. If you're ready, let’s listen.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
How did Vesak Day become known in Thailand?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The importance of Vesak Day is related to events associated with the advent of Buddhism or ศาสนาพุทธ (sàat-sà-năa phút). It was the day of the birth, enlightenment, and death of the prophet, Buddha. These events all fell on a single day. The Siddhartha prince was born at Lumphini Royal Park on a Friday morning on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon, in the sixth month of the year 623 BC which is 80 years before the Buddhist Era. He enlightened when he was 35 years old on a Monday morning on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon in the sixth month of year 588 BC (45 years before the Buddhist Era and six years after his ordination). He entered nirvana on a Tuesday morning on the fifteenth day of the waxing moon in the sixth month in India. This is why Buddhists all over the world all regard Vesak Day as a very important day.
There are three important teachings about Vesak Day that should be adopted in our daily lives, as follows. The first is Gratitude or ความกตัญญู (khwaam gà-dtan-yuu): We should have gratitude towards other people and pay back those who have helped us. Being thankful is regarded as the sign of a good person. The second is the “4 Noble Truths”: These teach that when we know and understand suffering or ความทุกข์ (khwaam thúk) and its root cause, we can find an appropriate way to cure the suffering and eventually end it. The third is “Being careful”: We should be conscious at all times, because being conscious makes us aware, and being aware or ตระหนัก (dtrà-nàk) helps us live without carelessness. Therefore, it can help us succeed in life and work.
When it is close to Vesak Day, schools and government buildings will hold exhibitions displaying the history of and stories about Vesak Day in order to educate people and remind them of its importance. On Vesak Day, Thai people come out to offer food to monks or พระสงฆ์ (phrá sŏng). Then they meditate in temples and listen to preaching about important teachings by Buddha and the importance of Vesak Day. They also walk around the temple at night with candles to commemorate the Buddha, Dharma, and monks.
Thai monks are divided into two main denominations: Mahanikaya and Dhammayuttika. This is the result of an effort to reform Buddhism 175 years ago. The major difference between the two denominations is that the Mahanikaya monks wear orange-gold robes while the Dhammayuttika monks wear dark colored robes. And Mahanikaya monks can touch money while the Dhammayuttika cannot.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
How did Vesak Day become known in Thailand?
There is evidence that Vesak Day started in Thailand in the Sukhothai era. It is presumed that the tradition was adopted from Sri Lanka, because in the Sukhothai era, Thailand had a close relationship with Sri Lanka through Buddhism. Therefore, there were many monks coming to Thailand on religious missions. They were the ones who brought the practices of Vesak Day into Thailand.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Did you know about Vesak Day before?
Leave us a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!