PHUKET: The Royal Ploughing Ceremony to be held today and the Budhhist holiday Visakha Bucha on Sunday will see government officials enjoy another four-day weekend starting today (May 13).
The traditional Royal Ploughing Ceremony activities, held at the Grand Palace in Bangkok and officially known as Wan Phra Ratcha Phithi Phuet Monkhon Lae Charot Phra Nangkhan Raek Na Khwan, are held to give blessings to the country’s farmers.
In short the day is also known simply as Farmer’s Day (Wan Phuet Mongkhon).
The date for these celebrations is astrologically-determined each year and announced by the Bureau of the Royal Household. A government holiday only, this ceremony revives an ancient blessing of the plants and ceremonial start to the new growing season.
Alcohol sales is allowed on Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day, and main branches of banks will be open.
However, a ban on the sale of alcohol will be in effect throughout the country for Visakha Bucha day on Sunday (May 16).
The ban on the sale of alcohol will be in effect for the precise 24 hours for May 15, from midnight to midnight.
Each year on Visakha Bucha Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate three great events on this full moon of the sixth lunar month: The birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha.
Devout Buddhists rise early to visit temples to make merit and listen to sermons on the Buddha’s teachings.
After sunset, candle-lit processions will take place at major temples throughout the country, with devout Buddhists walking clockwise three times around the principal chapel while clasping three incense sticks, a lighted candle and lotus buds.
Alcohol sales will be prohibited throughout the country by law, except at duty-free shops at the airport.
According to an announcement by the Prime Minister’s Office on January 22, 2015, the sale of alcohol is prohibited on five specific religious days: Makha Bucha, Visakha Bucha, Asarnha Bucha Day, Khao Pansa and Wan Org Pansa days.
Anyone caught breaking the ban faces a prison sentence of up to six months, a B10,000 fine or both.
Government offices on the island will be closed on Monday (May 16) to observe the public holiday, including Phuket Immigration Office, the Employment Office, the Land Transport Office and the island’s three District Offices.
All main bank branches will be closed, but branches in shopping centres will remain open.
All Royal Thai Police and Tourist Police stations will remain open and some local consulates will be open to serve their respective citizens.