Meak Bochea is an officially recognized public holiday that is observed within the Mekong region such as Thailand and Cambodia.
There is no fixed date for Meak Bochea day, as it depends on the Lunar cycle. In 2019, the day falls on February 19th, Tuesday. In Cambodia, this often takes place when the moon is full of the third lunar month in Khmer, which is called Meak.
History of Meak Bochea day
It has been said that on this day, it was seven months after Buddha started his teachings. At the time, there were over a thousand monks who gathered to hear the preachings of Buddha.
After hearing Buddha’s preachings, Buddha ordained the monks and urged them to spread out and relay the principles of Buddhism. It has been known to be a key event in the growth and development of the religion.
Almost 50 years after the event, on the same said full moon in the same lunar month, Buddha once more delivered his teachings. This was shortly before his death.
“Meak” means the third lunar month, while “Bochea” is defined as “to honor”.
Celebrating Meak Bochea Day
During Meak Bochea day, people wake up really early to give their offerings or alms to the monks. In the evening, the temples are then full of people who have come to gather and listen to the sermons of the monks. There is also a candle ceremony that takes place wherein they walk clockwise three times, circulating the temple while holding incense, flowers, and lighted candles.
For every turn around the temple, it represents one of the three jewels or ideas that are the principles of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.
If you are a visitor in Cambodia during this day, here are some things you could do:
- Attend a Buddhist temple ceremony, and witness the processions mentioned above. Check out the decorated temples and watch the worshipers, if you are lucky, you will get to go inside the temple as well.
- Go to Oudong Mountain, which has a grander scale of the ceremonies.
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