Yesterday was Visakha Bucha Day in Thailand (and for Buddhists generally), commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha (all three events are said to have occurred on the same day). As you might guess, it’s one of the most important holy days in Buddhism and is treated as a national holiday. In Chiang Mai, the night before Vishkha Bucha Day thousands of people walk all night up to Doi Suthep, a temple on top of the mountain overlooking the city. We didn’t attend this ceremony, but we did go to Wat Phan Tao last night to capture the beautiful ceremony they hold to mark the occasion.
The monks enter the temple just after dusk to pray, and when they have finished they walk three times around the chedi leading a procession of followers carrying incense and offerings. They then walk behind a pond in the middle of the temple complex surrounded by hundreds of candles, which had been lit earlier in the evening by volunteers and novice monks. It is really a gorgeous, spiritual sight to see.