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Makha Bucha (also: Magha Puja) (Lao: ມະຄະບູຊາ; Thai: มาฆบูชา) is an important religious festival celebrated by Buddhists in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos on the full moon day of the third lunar month (this usually falls in February). The full moon of the third lunar month, a month known in the Buddhist Pali language as Makha. Bucha, also a Pali word, means to venerate or to honor. As such, Makha Bucha Day is for the veneration of Buddha and his teachings on the Full Moon day of the third lunar month.
Magha Puja is a public holiday in Thailand and Laos, and is an occasion when Buddhists tend to go to the temple to perform merit-making activities.
Magha Puja day marks the four auspicious occasions, which happened nine months after the Enlightenment of the Lord Buddha at Veluvana Bamboo Grove, near Rajagaha in Northern India. On that occasion, four miraculous events coincided;
- 1,250 enlightened disciples of the Buddha spontaneously gathered
- Every one of those enlightened disciples had been given monastic ordination personally by the Lord Buddha
- Those disciples knew to meet together without any previous appointment
- It was the Full Moon day.
The Buddha gave an important teaching to the assembled monks on that day about 2,600 years ago called the 'Ovadapatimokkha' which laid down the principles by which the monks should spread the Buddhist teachings. In Thailand, this teaching has been dubbed the 'Heart of Buddhism'.