The rainy season has officially started, even though it has been raining regularly for over a month now. The Theravada Buddhist holiday that marks this change in season is called Khao Phansa and it is based on the Thai lunar calender (the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eighth lunar month). It is normally in July towards the end of the month.
Khao Phansa, also known as Buddhist Lent, signals the start of the period when Thai monks must remain in the monastery due to heavy rains. During this time monks are not permitted to sleep outside of their temple. On this day, Thai people buy big candles and offer them to the temple.
One day before Khao Phansa is another Buddhist public holiday called Asalabucha. This day commemorates teh first sermon of Buddha to his first five disciples. This day is sacred because it deals with Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. There are also candlelit processions.
For people around Thailand this means a long awaited three or four day weekend. Most companies and government offices are closed on Monday, while some schools are closed on Tuesday as well. This means that many Thais will be going home if they work far from their hometown or they will be going on a short holiday with the family. For those people that stay in Bangkok, they will find the city practically deserted and traffic will be at a minial.
Happy Long Weekend!!