Yesterday in Thailand we celebrated Visakha Bucha day where Buddhist’s worldwide commemorate three important events; the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha. This is a UNESCO World Heritage day and an observed holiday in Thailand.
Every year, Buddhists worldwide gather and perform worship to recollect wisdom, purity and passion of the Buddha. Here in Chiang Mai, approximately 10,000 people participate in a procession up the
winding, steep road to the famous Wat Phrathart Doi Suthep atop a mountain overlooking the city. From as early as 6pm the day before, people begin the 11km walk to the temple with intention of making merit to bring good fortune and blessings for the rest of the year. Along the road and at Wat Doi Suthep, people curl up for a nap as they wait for daybreak when a special ceremony is performed. From the top, you can watch the sunrise and listen to the meditative Buddhist chanting.
Some of our crew from Active Thailand decided to participate this year, starting 1am at the base of Doi Suthep mountain. With so much happening on the mountain road from free food and drink stations to fundraising raffle draws, it was hard to believe it was such an early hour of the morning. Finally arriving at the temple around 5am, we were greeted by thousands of worshippers amongst the temple sounds and magnificent sight of the sun rising above the Eastern mountains of Chiang Mai.
For those interested in gaining further insight into Thai culture and religion, this is an annual event well worth attending at least once regardless of your religion.