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Phuket to observe two-day alcohol ban starting at midnight

July 10, 2014

The sale of alcohol will be prohibited in Phuket tomorrow and Saturday as part of a nationwide ban to honor the Buddhist holiday of Asarnha Bucha and the start of Buddhist Lent.

“Alcohol sales are prohibited from midnight tonight until midnight Saturday,” Phuket Provincial Police Deputy Commander Sakchai Limcharoen told the Phuket Gazette this morning.

The Saturday alcohol ban honors Khao Pansa, the start of Buddhist Lent.

Alcohol may be sold in only one location: hotels. This exception was put in place to “stimulate the tourism sector”, according to the ministerial announcement which introduced it.

“We won’t increase our police patrols to monitor the ban, as I believe Thai people, alcohol retailers and outlets know that alcohol sales and purchases are prohibited,” said Col Sakchai.

“Everyone knows it is right to mark today as special. It is a good day to make merit. Please take the chance to be a giver and join a holy ceremony.”

Government offices and banks will be closed tomorrow to mark the holiday; however, banks in shopping malls will remain open.

“We will stay open but branches outside of malls will be closed and reopen on Monday,” said a Siam Commercial Bank staffer at Central Festival.

Asarnha Bucha Day, the full-moon day of the eighth lunar month, commemorates the Lord Buddha’s first sermon to his first five disciples after attaining Enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago.

Buddhists throughout the island will be participating in evening candlelit processions held in Buddhist temples.

Khao Pansa, the start of Buddhist Lent on Saturday, marks the beginning of the annual three-month “rains retreat” during which Buddhist monks customarily stay at a particular temple to study and meditate. The monks are not allowed to stay overnight at any other location during this period except under exceptional circumstances (story here).

We would like to wish everyone a Happy and Khao Pansa.

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