Like temples throughout Thailand, Chiang Mai’s temples will be staging ceremonies to mark the onset of Buddhist Lent on Saturday (28 July 2018). Khao Phansa on Saturday is the first day of Vassa (Lent) and will see Buddhists head off to their local temples bearing gifts such as fruit, sweets and small trees with banknotes attached to them.
For their part, the monks will chant and give sermons. Vassa 2018 runs through until the 24 October and will see some Thai Buddhists give up smoking, alcohol and meat for the duration. In olden times, more Thais gave up these particular vices. The tradition for monks to stay inside their temples has largely died out too as many of the monks are enrolled on educational courses which do not stop for Lent.
The previous day, Friday the 27 July, is Asarnha Bucha Day. Asarnha Bucha commemorates the day Lord Buddha described the Four Noble Truths after his enlightenment. Candlelight walks around temples in the evening are the main feature of Asarnha Bucha rites. As both days are religious holidays and, in compliance with Thai laws, venues serving alcohol will be banned from doing so.