This Wednesday, May 26th, 2021, will be one of the holiest days of the year-Visakha Bucha Day, also known as Vesak Day, in Thailand.
However, for the second year in a row, the event will be marked in a lowkey manner in Thailand due to the Covid-19 outbreak currently taking place in the Kingdom, especially in and around the Bangkok area.
Normally a date of much concern for tourists as it shuts the countries popular entertainment venues and bars, that isn’t a concern this year as the country has closed them nationwide for weeks now to attempt to stop the potential spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus for the second year in a row.
Alcohol sales at restaurants have also been banned nationwide and will not be much of a difference this year. However, alcohol sales from supermarkets, convenience stores, and similar venues will be banned this Wednesday due to the religious holiday so drinkers are advised to stock up at home beforehand.
As for those wishing to mark the religious holiday, nearly all temples have canceled normal activities, temple fairs, and similar religious gatherings to stop the potential spread of the coronavirus. The Culture Minister, Ittipol Khunplome, is urging people to mark the occasion at home only with members of one’s direct household or to give well wishes to other Buddhists online through tools like ZOOM.
Religious ceremonies will be broadcast on television from socially distanced, no crowd temples and one can even “virtually” participate in activities here. (In Thai.)
Temples across Thailand, for the second year in a row, have been instructed to cancel, postpone or severely limit public-facing events for the holiday to help encourage physical distancing. Monks will, however, still perform rituals in private and with Covid-19 precautions that will mark the birth, enlightenment, and passing, or Parinirvana, of Lord Buddha at their temples. They will follow physical distancing suggestions and utilize proper hygiene requirements.
Buddhists will traditionally celebrate this day by performing charitable acts, visiting temples to pay homage to Lord Buddha, assisting with volunteer work, helping the elderly and sick as well as performing actions such as assisting at temples. Due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus, however, as stated above, followers are encouraged to mark the day virtually and at home if possible. Temple fairs, markets, public candle walks, public teachings and sermons, and other large religious events are canceled.