This coming Saturday, June 3, the sale of alcohol will be nationally prohibited due to the observance of the Buddhist holiday Visakha Bucha.
The date aligns with the royal tour of Phuket by King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana, in celebration of Her Majesty’s birthday also on June 3.
Visakha Bucha is significant as it commemorates three distinct events in Prince Siddhartha’s life – his birth, enlightenment, and death, all of which happened on the same date but many years apart, according to the ancient Buddhist calendar.
For this special day, devout Buddhists typically start the day early by going to temples to gain merit and hear sermons based on Buddha’s teachings.
When night falls, candle-lit processions are observed at significant temples across the nation.
Devout followers participate by circling the main chapel thrice in a clockwise direction, holding three incense sticks, a lit candle, and lotus buds.
By law, alcohol sales will be forbidden nationwide on June 3 for a full 24-hour period, from midnight Friday to midnight Saturday, excluding duty-free shops at the airport.
The alcohol sale ban was implemented through a law enforced by the Prime Minister’s Office in January 2015.
This law prohibits alcohol sales on five key religious days: Makha Bucha, Visakha Bucha, Asarnha Bucha Day, Khao Pansa, and Wan Org Pansa.
Violators of this ban could face penalties, which include a jail term of up to six months, a THB 10,000 fine, or both.
The royal tour of Phuket by Their Majesties coincides with the religious holiday on Saturday, as announced by Phuket Vice Governor Amnuay Pinsuwan the previous week.
To honour the King, provincial officials will prepare three simple and respectful ceremonies.
An alms-giving ceremony will take place at the multi-purpose yard of Phuket Provincial Hall at 7:30 am.
A homage-paying ceremony including the placement of the ‘Phan Phum’ (พานพุ่ม) in front of the King’s portrait will be held at 6pm.
The lighting of candles to honour the auspicious occasion will occur at the Phuket Government Center Auditorium at 7:19 pm.
The general public is encouraged to participate in these events.
As two national holidays fall on this Saturday, government offices such as Immigration, District Offices, and the local Department of Land Transportation office will remain closed on Saturday and the following Monday, June 5.
While main bank branches will be closed, certain branches located within shopping malls will stay open.
Thailand Post branches and kiosks in shopping centers will operate as usual, and hospitals will provide only emergency and ongoing treatments – ancillary services such as weight loss and skin care will not be provided.
All Royal Thai Police and Tourist Police stations will stay operational, and some local consulates will be open to cater to their citizens.
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