Visakha Bucha Day & Happy Birthday & VOTE?

Visakha Bucha Day

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Visakha Bucha Day & Happy Birthday & VOTE?…

There’s a lot going on today… We all know it’s Visakha Bucha Day but it’s also my birthday (yeah)… and… it’s the day voting opens for the Top 100 Language Lovers 2011 competition.

So, yeah! Let the voting begin.

Happy Visakha Bucha Day…

Officially, 17 May 2011 marks 2,600 years since Buddha’s enlightenment. To celebrate the anniversary, on the 8th of May 12,600 monks in orange and goodness knows how many Buddhists in white got together in front of Central in Bangkok. I was there. It was a massive event. And I was rightfully impressed.

Alms Giving to 12,600 Monks in Bangkok ( – no longer online): Visakha Bucha Day is one of the most important days in the Buddhist calendar. It takes place every year on the full moon of the sixth lunar month. Three important events happened on this day. These were the birth, enlightenment and the death of the Lord Buddha. Buddhists make merit on this day by going to the temple to offer food to monks and to listen to sermons.

Richard Barrow showed up at 5:30 in the morning, putting me to shame. I didn’t roll up until 7am and ran right into a sea of white. Not orange.

Visakha Bucha Day


Passing along the rows of white, each sitting by their stash, I also came across street hawkers and merit making birds at the ready.

Visakha Bucha Day

Then I walked past people crammed into available spaces on the sidelines.

Visakha Bucha Day

As well as young lads patiently waiting the morning out.

Visakha Bucha Day

Finally, after about ten minutes of dodging the worshipers in white, I hit orange.

Visakha Bucha Day

Lots of orange.

Visakha Bucha Day

I don’t know what hour the monks arrived but by the time I rolled up they were rightfully zonked.

Visakha Bucha Day

Some were animated during the speeches, while others did a bit of pot cleaning.

Visakha Bucha Day

There was one TiT moment. See that pedestrian walkover? The one with the half naked model behind it? Photographers were walking up there to take advantage of the prime photo taking spot of the morning. When I went to do the same I was stopped.

Waggling my camera in protest I was told “Male photographers only”. WHY? Says I. “Women cannot be higher than the monks.”

I mentioned this to a Thai friend. He scoffed. Said there is no such rule in Buddhism.

So TiT strikes once again.

Visakha Bucha Day

Were you wondering how comfortable those seats would be? I guess not much!

Visakha Bucha Day

Now here’s a monk after my own heart. He’s parked right at the back where he can fiddle with his earphones undisturbed.

Visakha Bucha Day

To snap a photo from as high as I could I walked to the very back of the monks, climbed up to and then across the Skytrain walkway. Did you notice the signs keeping step with the sitting monks? The ones that say “Women for Women”? Gotta love it.

Visakha Bucha Day

The sea of orange was amazing.

Visakha Bucha Day

It was all amazing (but apologies, once again, my video skills are still total cacca).

Visakha Bucha Day, 17 May 2011, is a one off deal for Buddhists and if you are missing it, that’s it. Finish. So if you are in Thailand and this is your thing, then please get your butts away from the computer and get out there. Or vote. There’s always voting.

17 thoughts on “Visakha Bucha Day & Happy Birthday & VOTE?”

  1. Hi Carsten, I checked the logs and I’m guessing that your comment got sucked into spam due to the use of ‘female genitals’ (?) We’ll see if mine is…

  2. Hi,

    Catherine, I wonder why my Post to this Topic was deleted?????

    Plese send me an E-Mail and explain.

    The information I posted was by Ampha Otrakul, famous Thai-German Dictionary writer.

  3. Thank you for the well wishes Martyn. My birthday celebrations started last Friday and were extended until yesterday after a friend mentioned that it was still May 17 in California. So this year I got 6 days of whoopie in (not too shabby 😀

    I took a number of photos of sleeping monks that day (so fun). Can’t really fault them as they were turfed out of bed at an ungodly hour.

  4. Catherine, sorry I’m late wishing you a Happy Birthday but holidays leave little time for the internet. I hope you enjoyed your special day.

    Lovely post and smashing photos, my favourite is the eighth from the bottom showing one of the monks taking a snooze.

  5. Thank Paul. It was an impressive celebration. I can’t stop thinking about how much work they (someone) had to do to get it to run that smoothly.

    Snap, you got it right there. We were getting cut off by motorcycles even – total craziness when you know who’d win that race. And what’s up with the “stay two dots behind” deal? LOL! Everyone was ignoring the signs. And in some places the dots didn’t appear for a mile or so after the signs (after everyone would have forgotten).

    Ta for the voting! I’m hoping that I’ll do better this year than last but it’s a bigger deal this year I believe. The competition is gaining recognition (as it should).

  6. Catherine, Chiang Mai has some ‘bloody idiots’ on the roads, as our road safety campaign back in Oz would say. I think because they can drive faster (less traffic than BKK), they do. There was quite a lot of water on the road the other night, but that didn’t seem to slow them down!

    Voting done 😉

  7. Voted!

    Cat, technically monks aren’t even supposed to be tattooing women unless it’s an oil tattoo…so many rules…many not followed and much confusion for us 🙂

  8. Hi Dan, apologies for your comment going live late. You got stuck.

    But is it really a rule (as in written down) or is it something that’s being propagated around?

  9. Thanks Talen 🙂 I’ve run into a lot of religious ‘rules’ in Thailand that are not followed. Monks who are supposed to wear gloves when giving gals tattoos for one (do you remember the video? No gloves in sight). Years ago I read advice from a monk who was saying that there is nothing wrong with touching women, it’s just that some monks go astray is all. But if they are strong, no problem (unless their action leads another monk astray).

    And thanks to you too Snap 🙂 I didn’t think to check Chiang mai for similar celebrations when I was there today. A good thing because we got caught up in a flood when heading to the fake Hill Tribe village and wouldn’t have had had time for everything. Ah, and the vote! Thanks for the reminder as I need to get the links edited/changed.

    Heya Lani. Thanks and hugs back 🙂 I was worried about all of you heading home late last night on your bikes in the rain. Compared to Bangkok, Chiang mai has more road crazies. We lost count on how many close calls there were. Bikes, trucks, cars, all weaving and dashing in front of us not looking. Or maybe it was just the holiday and/or we got lucky?

  10. Yeah, when I was heading home last night the roads were closed off which meant an easy breezy ride all the way home. No stop lights!

    Gorgeous photos by the way. You have such a talent for photography, so quit apologizing!

    Happy Birthday hugs!

  11. I once heard that in 2-level busses, there are sometimes Signs saying, “that women are not allowed to sit on the 2nd Level” because then there female genitals would be higher than the head of the men sitting on the 1st Level below them.
    We all know that the head is the most respected part in Buddhism no matter you are a Monk or not.

  12. Happy Birthday Cat!!!!!

    My friend here in Chiang Mai arrives at 4.00 am for the line up to give alms, otherwise she won’t get a spot. Apparently they close of Nimmanhemin Road. She has a wonderful photo of colours: rows of orange monks, white worshippers and brownish police…or was it green soldiers?

    PS. I won’t forget to vote 🙂

  13. Cat, beautiful pictures as always…and a big happy 28th birthday to you 🙂

    About the women being higher than monk question. I know of a few instances I’ve come across where this rule has been followed. Even in some off beat ways.

    While researching the Sak Yant tattoos I found that for the most part woemn aren’t to touch a Sak Yant unless given specific permission and if they do touch it they must be in a lower position than that of the tattoo which would have them in a lower position of the monk who placed the tattoo.

  14. Hi Catherine,

    I have certainly seen the ‘women should not be above a monk’ rule applied – Ploy adheres to it all the time and I see all women locally adhering to it at local monk events.

    Also Ploy has moved seat on the BTS to avoid sitting next to a monk, (as women are not allowed to touch them).

    If I attend local events I often get sat at a men’s table which is a shame as the women’s conversation (on another table) is usually much more interesting.


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