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To mark the end of Buddhist Lent, Thailand is banning the sale of alcohol today

Thailand’s laws say that anyone caught selling alcohol today can get a fine of up to 10,000 baht or up to six months in prison or both. Even though they could get fined or even go to jail for it, many smaller, independent restaurants in the kingdom may still serve alcohol to non-religious people who want to drink, which is against the law. It doesn’t make much sense to ask this question, since big stores like 7-Eleven are unlikely to answer. On Makha Bucha Day, Visakha Bucha Day, Asanha Bucha Day, and Khao Pansa, it is also against the law to sell alcohol in Thailand (enter Pansa). Today is the last day of Buddhist Lent in Thailand. This is celebrated with the happy and lucky Buddhist festival called “Awk Pansa” (exit Pansa).

Since today is one of Thailand’s five most important Buddhist holidays, it is illegal to sell alcohol all day. Today is the first day since July 14 that saffron-robed monks and white-robed maechis have left their temples since the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat, a time of intense Buddhist study and practice. In Thai, the retreat is called “Pansa,” but in Pali, it’s called “Vassa.” People who practice Theravada Buddhism in Southeast Asia take part in the celebration of Vassa. The dates change from year to year because they depend on the lunar calendar. During the month of Vassa, lay Buddhists are asked to stop doing things like smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating meat. Even though Buddhism was around before Christianity, the event is called “Buddhist Lent” because it is so similar to the Christian practice. Awk Pansa starts on the 15th day of the 11th waxing moon, which happens each year on October 10th. The Alcohol Beverage Control Act says that it is illegal to sell alcoholic drinks anywhere in Thailand, except in duty-free shops in international airports (2008).

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