IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

MAKHABUCHA CEREMONY

26th February, 2024 Culture

MAKHABUCHA CEREMONY

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Context

  • The esteemed Somdet and other senior monks of Thailand gracefully presided over the sacred MakhaBucha (Magh Puja) ceremony, which stands as one of the five most revered events for Buddhists in Thailand.
  • This significant event unfolded at the venue where the holy relics of Lord Buddha and his two disciples, transported from India, are enshrined.
  • This symbolizes the deep spiritual bond between Thailand and the origins of Buddhism.

Details

  • Māgha PÅ«jā, also known as Makha Bucha Day, is a significant Buddhist festival celebrated across several countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.
  • It commemorates a historic gathering between the Buddha and 1,250 of his first disciples, emphasizing the creation of an exemplary Buddhist community.
  • The festival is considered the second most important Buddhist celebration after Vesak.

Etymology and Date

  • The term makha comes from the word “Magha” in Pali and it refers to the third lunar month, while bucha can translate as “to worship,” both of which are derived from the Pali language used in Buddhist scripture.
  • Therefore, the term MakhaBucha refers to a day intended for worshiping on the third lunar month.

Themes and Traditions

  • The event celebrated on Māgha PÅ«jā occurred at the Veḷuvana grove in northern India, ten months after the Buddha's enlightenment.
  • The gathering had significant characteristics, including the spontaneous arrival of 1,250 arahants, all ordained by the Buddha himself.
  • The Buddha delivered key teachings, emphasizing the importance of virtuous conduct, patience, and moderation in spiritual practice.
  • Māgha PÅ«jā also marks the day when the Buddha announced his impending parinibbāna (final passing) and appointed his main disciples, Sāriputta and Moggallāna.

Historical Significance and Modern Observance

  • Māgha PÅ«jā has roots in traditional Buddhist societies but gained widespread popularity in the modern period.
  • It was instituted as a national celebration in Thailand by King Rama IV in the mid-19th century and later recognized as a public holiday.
  • The festival is observed with various merit-making activities, including alms giving, meditation, and listening to Buddhist teachings.
  • Its revival in the 20th century contributed to its spread to neighboring Theravāda Buddhist countries, making it a significant cultural and religious event across Asia.

PRACTICE QUESTION

Q. Discuss the significance of spiritual connection in fostering India’s relations with Thailand. (150 words)