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Happy Royal Birthday HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn

Legends of mineral stone at Koh Larn

Put-out Kantamat locals want homeless man evicted from bus stop

Rare stork in Open Zoo pilot project returns home

Baywatch

City focuses on increased consumer protection

Short on green, Brit golfer penalized for putter in pants

Frenchman celebrating Spain victory on motorbike hits pedestrian, injuring 3

Millions in liquid ya ice seized in Bangkok were destined for Pattaya

Police come down hard on seller of knockoff Viagra

Russian pianist back to Thai court on sex charge

Bar hostess shot in leg by unidentified youths

Buddhist Lent begins next week


Happy Royal Birthday HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn

HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and his Royal Consort Her Royal Highness Princess Srirasm, along with HSH Prince Bhisadej Rajanee get a close up look at some remarkable crops being grown in the Royal Project.
(Photo courtesy Bureau of the Royal Household)

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was born on July 28, 1952, in the Ambara Villa of the Royal Dusit Palace in Bangkok. He is the second of four children, and is the only son of Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great and Queen Sirikit.

The Crown Prince received His primary schooling at Udorn Hall of the Dusit Palace and attended secondary school in Sussex and Summerset, England. In August 1970, the Crown Prince attended the King’s School, Paramatta, Sydney, Australia and in 1976, he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Military Studies at the University of New South Wales. HRH the Crown Prince also attended the Royal Thai Army Command and General Staff College, graduating in 1978, and later received a Bachelor of Laws Degree from Sukhothai Thammatirat University in Bangkok in 1987. In 1990, he successfully attended the Royal College of Defense Studies in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej conferred his son with the title of “Somdech Phra Borama Orasadhiraj Chao Fah Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayam Makutrajakuman” on December 28, 1972, making him the Crown Prince and Heir to the throne.

HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn attended numerous military training courses in Australia and the United States, with observation tours in England, Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands. A long list of military courses attended by the Crown Prince includes helicopter and high performance aircraft flight training, special warfare training, demolition training, parachute training, and courses in small arms and other weapons used in modern warfare.

Some assignments include Commanding Officer of the King’s Own Bodyguard Regiment and Command, Commanding General of the Royalty Security Command, and Instructor Pilot of the F-5 E/F. Intermittently, he engaged in actions for counter-insurgency purposes in the North and Northeast areas of Thailand as well as for protective purposes in areas around Cambodian refugee camps at Khao Lant, Trat Province.

The Crown Prince has continued the Royal Family’s assistance programs to underdeveloped areas around the country and visited depressed urban areas around Bangkok distributing food and necessity items to people in need. Another impressive undertaking was his participation in a fertilizer preparation project in Suphan Buri Province using natural ingredients to enrich the land in support of the country’s great agricultural pursuits. Farming is considered to be a highly significant and noble profession in Thailand and the Royal Family takes an active role in advancing the vital industry of agriculture.

HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and his Royal Consort Her Royal Highness Princess Srirasm are the proud parents of HRH Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, born on April 29 at 6:35 p.m. at Sriraj Hospital in Bangkok. It is the couple’s first child.

Most recently, in February 2010, HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn and his Royal Consort Her Royal Highness Princess Srirasm personally donated one million baht to help quake-hit victims in the Caribbean country of Haiti. The donation was made via the “Sai Yai Rak Haeng Krob Krua (Family’s Bond of Love)” project under the royal patronage of HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.

In March 2010, HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn showed his continued support of promoting Muay Thai as an Olympic sport when he granted an audience to officials in charge of promoting Muay Thai, offering guidance and encouraging them to continue their efforts.


Legends of mineral stone at Koh Larn

Theerarak Suthathiwong

Metal or mineral; solid or liquid; black or blue: There’s much debate as to what leklai, one of Koh Larn’s most-famous and least-understood exports is. What isn’t debatable, at least for devout Buddhist locals, is that the rock is magical.

63-year-old Ngam Wanchan shows off one of the areas on Koh Larn where leklai can be found.

Found naturally throughout Thailand, “leklai” is one of the most-prized alloys for crafting Buddhist amulets. The rarest form is the all-black leklai jau-pha found in Issan. The greenish-blue lek lai larn found on Pattaya’s offshore tourist resort is said to hold less mystic power, but still treasured by locals who regard anything made of it as a powerful talisman against evil.

Songkran “Bird” Modthong is a Sawang Boriboon Foundation medic who grew up on Koh Larn and recently led a tour around the island’s various lucky leklai locales. The irony that passengers on this good-luck tour were chauffeured around in a hearse seemed lost on the 45-year-old guide.

Uncle Ngam displays some of the souvenirs at the museum gift shop.

First stop was Mai Samran Temple, home to a 5 m. pagoda devoted to the shiny metal-cum-mineral. The 40-year-old structure features three military and police officials composed of leklai. Worshiping these figures is said to prevent the need for either on the island.

Next stop: Had Naul, a lonely beach at the foot of a small hill where locals continue to dig out the metal despite a city ban on doing so. The red-black bluff has a cavern about 800 m. wide and 10 m. deep. Here, Songkran said, can be found the blackest and purest of the island’s lucky metal.

Whether it is actually a metal is up for debate. There’s virtually no scientific data published on the composition of leklai. The name itself literally translates to “metal eel”. It can melt at just the temperature of a candle, leading most to assume it’s a mercurial alloy. But the fact that there are 14 substances called “leklai” in Thailand - all of which are different colors - leads most to believe that leklai is not one substance, but the name for natural outgrowth of rocky formations with similar physical attributes.

The fact it is easily pliable and, when shined, takes on a high-gloss, made it long popular in Asia. Folklore has it that during World War II the relative of a Thai marshal exported Koh Larn’s version to Japan, claiming it could be used to construct a nuclear bomb. When the alloy - removed from its natural climate - changed colors, the Japanese dumped it.

Such stories are now collected at the leklai museum, run by 63-year-old Ngam Wanchan. Open for about a year, the showroom houses about 1,000 leklai samples, some as heavy as 100 kg.

Another fable involves Koh Larn temple priests Chiew and Bun and their dog Rang, who they often had to chase after. One day Bun threw a piece of leklai at the dog and he ate it. Surprisingly, the dog was fine and so the monks started mixing in small pieces of the metal into the dog’s food daily.

It didn’t help the dog’s disposition, however. The pooch later bit a local child, requiring 100 stitches. The child’s angry father shot the dog but, legend has it, the bullets didn’t piece the dog’s skin thanks to its leklai diet. To this day, Koh Larn locals believe carrying leklai will ward off dog bites.

Such rare and lucky rocks, of course, fetch a good price outside of Koh Larn. Locals frown upon commercialization of the metal, with “Kind Uncle Ngam” admitting he wishes ill-fortune on anyone selling his leklai collection. He likes to recall how one hotel employee who did so died a week later.

“Leklai is not for sale, but for worship,” Ngam said. Of course he does sell souvenirs at the museum gift shop.

For those curious about Koh Larn’s lucky metal but who don’t want to risk injury or arrest by scavenging for rocks - let alone Uncle Ngam’s wrath - plenty of leklai amulets, some purportedly from Koh Larn itself, are available on eBay and other online websites.


Put-out Kantamat locals want homeless man evicted from bus stop

Patcharapol Panrak

A local homeless man who took over a Khao Kantamat bus stop is irritating locals who complain they have nowhere to take shelter from rainy season storms and are scared the vagrant might be dangerous.

A homeless man has taken over a bus stop in Khao Kantamat, and residents want officials to come and get him.

A residents’ group contacted the media this month about the man who has converted the bus shelter at the entrance to Kantamat Temple in Plutaluang, saying they needed to the shelter to stay dry. They believe the homeless man is crazy and disease-ridden because both he and the bus stop are now dirty.

His behavior certainly isn’t winning friends. Residents say the man can be seen wandering Sattahip Market and Sukhumvit Road by day, taking some food offerings from less-timid souls. He then retires to his new home, but doesn’t wake up until noonish, inconveniencing bus-takers who have to wait in the sun or rain to catch their ride.

Female students said they are particularly scared what the man with wild hair might do and hope the city evicts the bum before he does something actually worthy of headlines.


Rare stork in Open Zoo pilot project returns home

Theerarak Suthathiwong

One of two rare storks released to breed in the wild by the Khao Kheow Open Zoo was returned home after it was caught while dining on fish at the Khao Maikaew Market.

The Woolly-necked Stork, a globally protected large water bird that has all but disappeared from Thailand, was captured July 11 by Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan Foundation rescuers in Sriracha. Market vendors who noticed the bird had a plastic band on one leg, realized the bird wasn’t wild.

This Woolly-necked Stork, found at Khao Maikaew Market, was returned to Khao Kheow Open Zoo.

Rescuer Suchin Tangman said the stork had been spotted flying with smaller birds over the market and then it swooped down to a perch and dropped to the walk. Merchants gave it fish and the bird wasn’t afraid of people, showing them it had been partly domesticated at one point.

The Woolly-necked Stork is a broad-winged soaring bird with three sub-species scattered across Africa, Southeast Asia and India. It is a large bird, typically 85 cm tall and is all black except for the woolly white neck and white lower belly. The upperparts are glossed dark green, and the breast and belly have a purple hue. The Asian sub-species, except for birds found natively in Indonesia, has a head that is mostly white except around the eyes.

Native to wetland areas, the stork usually feeds on amphibians, reptiles and large insects, but obviously won’t pass up a free fish dinner. The stork became protected in 1995 by the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds, which covers more than 61 countries, but not Thailand.

Here the bird has been nearly wiped out by hunting and destruction of its natural habitat. Veterinarian Jetsada Taewnern of the Open Zoo said the facility has begun a pilot project to release some birds into the wild in hopes of rebuilding its population. Zoo officials said they knew the avians sometimes flew back into the community and were grateful to have the stork returned safely.


Baywatch: There’s a hole in the road and no one is looking into it

In yet another example of city maintenance work started only to be forgotten, this pile of sand, half-empty bags and two holes in the ground have been tripping up pedestrians outside Chaimongkol Temple on South Pattaya Road for a month.

The pile of sand dug out of the holes has slowly eroded, turned into rivers of mud by the season’s torrential downpours. Why city workers dug up the sidewalk, dumped their bags and then walked off the job isn’t known. What is known is this kind of irresponsible, half-hearted attempt at repairs only contributes to the perception no one in government really cares how the public is inconvenienced.


City focuses on increased consumer protection

The Consumer Protection Board meets with city officials to ensure public facilities meet safety and legal standards.

Thanachot Anuwan

The government will start issuing certifications to Pattaya hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues to let patrons know if they have met building and consumer-protection standards.

During a July 13 meeting with the head of inspections for Thailand’s Consumer Protection Board, Pattaya City Hall Chief Wuttipol Charoenphol reviewed building standards and consumer-protection issues and discussed guidelines for inspections.

The Consumer Protection Board wants to ensure public facilities meet safety and legal standards and will take action against firms that fail its inspection. Those who pass will be issued a certificate in Thai and English to certify they meet building codes and other regulations.


Short on green, Brit golfer penalized for putter in pants

Boonlua Chatree

A British golfer looking to improve his short game now faces a long-term problem after getting caught with a stolen putter in his pants leg.

Christian Clarke was busted for trying to shoplift a Scotty Cameron putter.

Christian Clarke, 34, was arrested July 11 inside Central Festival Pattaya Beach after being detained by a security guard for trying to leg it out of the Super Sports store with a 15,300 baht Scotty Cameron putter shoved down his pants.

Officers based at the Pattaya Police Station only 10 meters from the mall said Clarke had entered the store enquiring about a new putter. After finding out how much it cost, he pretended to look around the story until trying to conceal the club, they said. Searching him, police found only 2,000 baht on him.


Frenchman celebrating Spain victory on motorbike hits pedestrian, injuring 3

EMTs tend to Frenchman Kevin Claude after he ran over
a pedestrian and crashed into the back of a car.

Boonlua Chatree

A Frenchman speeding through Pattaya on a motorbike to celebrate Spain’s victory in the World Cup ran into a Russian man and crashed into another vehicle injuring him and his Thai passenger.

Sawang Boriboon Foundation medics were called to Second Road near Soi 12 around 5:30 a.m. July 12 where 41-year-old Norikor Lgor was lying in the middle of the road in a pool of blood. Nearby were the unconscious bodies of Kevin Claude, 22, and his 28-year-old companion, Kaewta. All were taken to Pattaya Memorial Hospital.

None of the injured were able to make statements, but witnesses said Claude - decked out in a Spain football jersey - was seen speeding recklessly down Second Road and hitting Lgor as he crossed the street. He then lost control of the motorbike and crashed into a car.


Millions in liquid ya ice seized in Bangkok were destined for Pattaya

Boonlua Chatree

The 67 million baht in liquefied crystal methamphetamine seized during the arrest of an Iranian couple at Bangkok’s international airport July 12 were bound for an agent in Pattaya, authorities said.

Javad Firoozi, 28, and Manizhen Azhdari, 30, were taken into custody after a random baggage search at Suvarnabhumi International Airport turned up 18.4 liters of liquid crystal meth in bottles concealed inside a deflated raft. They told investigators, who had been tipped off to their arrival, they were paid $1,500 each to deliver the drugs to a distributor in Pattaya.

It was the second big crystal meth arrest at Suvarnabhumi this month. In an unrelated case, another Iranian man was caught July 1 smuggling 900 grams of ya ice in his suitcase. He denied any knowledge of how the 3 million baht in crystal meth got there.

All three were charged with illegal possession of Class 1 narcotics and trafficking drugs into the kingdom.

Investigators said the Iranian couple’s arrest was significant as it was the first time authorities have seized ya ice in liquid form in Thailand. Liquefying the drug is an increasingly common way for smugglers to move methamphetamines. Less than a week before the Iranian duo were caught in Bangkok, authorities in Indonesia arrested four Chinese men who used 38 towels to soak up liquefied ya ice, which they then dried and smuggled into Jakarta inside suitcases.

This month named the country with the highest numbers of methamphetamine addicts, Thailand is a rich market for ya ice and ya ba drug smugglers. Even though the drug loses some potency during the liquefaction and drying process, the additional quantities that can be smuggled by turning it into a liquid more than make up the loss for dealers, officials said.


Police come down hard on seller of knockoff Viagra

Boonlua Chatree

Police seized more than a half-million baht in sexual enhancement and bodybuilding drugs at a South Pattaya pharmacy.

Police seized more than a half-million baht in sexual enhancement and bodybuilding drugs from Top Pharmacy.

Tipped off by a local clinic, Chonburi crime suppression officers raided Top Pharmacy July 6, seizing 2,250 packets of impotency drug Kamagra gel, 880 Kamagra tablets, 520 Caverta and 1,040 tablets of Intamax. Ten types of muscle-enhancement hormones and steroids and 240 Ab-S X fat-burning pills were also confiscated.

Officers also arrested shop owner Wicha Thipphawan, 44, who had stored the unregistered drugs upstairs at his pharmacy. He was charged with unauthorized sale of controlled medication and possession of unregistered drugs. Police said the medications were smuggled into Thailand illegally.

Police used a Japanese man they had arrested for illegally importing such drugs to buy drugs from the pharmacy, allowing officers to obtain the search warrant they needed.

Col. Akaradet Phimonsri said the sweep came after complaints from several Pattaya clinic operators about the sale of unregistered and potentially dangerous sexual performance drugs. Improper use can result in heart attacks and death and many of the purchasers were elderly men who had not been cleared by doctors for such medication, physicians complained.


Russian pianist back to Thai court on sex charge

Kinan Suchaovanich

Pattaya (AP) - A renowned Russian pianist and conductor arrested on child sex charges returned to Thailand for a court hearing Monday, honoring the terms of his controversial release on bail that allowed him to leave the country.

Russian pianist and conductor Mikhail Pletnev leaves Pattaya provincial court on Monday, July 19. (Pattaya Mail photo)

Mikhail Pletnev, the conductor and founder of the Russian National Orchestra, told reporters before his court appearance that allegations he had raped a 14-year-old boy were “not true.”

“During the police search of my home, nothing connected with the allegations - no photographs or other visual material - was found on (my) computer,” he said, reading from a prepared statement.

Pletnev could face up to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to 40,000 baht if found guilty.

After his arrest in Pattaya, the provincial court granted him permission to leave the country to perform at a festival in Macedonia, after posting bail of about $9,000.

Anti-pedophile activists, doubting he would return, had criticized the action as too lenient for someone accused of a serious crime.

“(Since my return) I hope everyone now accepts that I am a man of honor and that I am a man of my word,” said Pletnev.

Internationally known as a pianist, conductor and composer, Pletnev won a 2005 Grammy for an arrangement of Prokofiev’s “Cinderella” which was recorded with him and Martha Argerich on piano.

He owns a restaurant and the Euro Club - which includes a swimming pool and badminton courts - in Pattaya, where he reportedly lives in a palatial compound.

Activists still believe there is a strong case against him.

“It’s up to the police now to collate all the evidence and call the witnesses,” said Supagon Noja of the Child Protection and Development Center, a non-governmental organization.


Mikhall Pletnev reads from prepared statement

Mikhall Pletnev read from the following prepared statement following his appearance in the Pattaya District Court on Monday, July 19:

“I have today appeared as instructed at the Pattaya District Court. In order to be here, I returned to Thailand from Europe.

I once again express my thanks to the Court for permitting me to leave Thailand 12 days ago to conduct at the opening concert of the 50th Ohrid Festival in Macedonia.

I have been asked to appear again before the court in another 12 days. I wish to make it clear that I shall be here for that appointment. As publicized in the news media throughout the world, some people in authority and others expressed their views that I would never return to Thailand. I hope everyone now accepts that I am a man of honor and that I am a man of my word.

I have always stated that I will assist the police in every way I can with their enquiries into the allegations that have been made against me. I say again these allegations are not true. I also state, contrary to media reports, that during the police search of my home nothing connected with the allegations - no photographs or other visual material - was found in the computer.

I also wish to address some mistakes and rumors that have been written about me over the last two weeks.

Firstly, at a press conference prior the concert at the Ohrid Festival, some media wrote that I claimed the allegations against me were “not important”. This phrase was taken completely out of context. That conference was to announce the opening of the 50th Ohrid Festival, a major occasion in Macedonia. One reporter asked one question about Thailand. I stated we were in Ohrid to celebrate the opening of the festival. What was happening in Thailand was not so important that day in Ohrid, where it was more important that the media focus on the concert and the beautiful music we were to be performing. I have never regarded this case as being anything but very serious.

Secondly, my residence in Thailand is not full-time. I return to Thailand and my house here only when I have sufficient time available in my busy concert schedule. In the last 10 years, I have managed to make just a few visits to Thailand each year, with each visit being usually between 1 and 3 weeks.

Thirdly, I do not - and have never - run any form of music school in Thailand. Given the very short periods I am in Thailand, I frankly do not understand how this could be possible.

Lastly, it has been suggested that I arranged for some Thai instrumentalists to visit Russia for study with me. This is false. When I performed a concerto and a recital in Bangkok in August 2004 in honor of her Majesty the Queen’s 72nd Birthday, I had the great pleasure of meeting her Royal Highness Princess Galyani Vadhana. The Princess honored me by inviting me for a discussion about how she could further assist the development of talented young Thai musicians through a fund she had established for this purpose. She hoped it might be possible for one or more to study at the Moscow Conservatoire. She asked if I would audition some musicians, which I subsequently did. I then informed Her Royal Highness that none of the students were at that time close to the very high standard demanded for entry. That remains the only occasion when I have had any discussions with anyone regarding Thai musicians studying in the Moscow Conservatoire.

In conclusion, I ask that there is no further speculation on this case until the police investigations have been completed and the case considered by the Court.

Thank you
Mikhail Pletnev
19 July 2010”


Bar hostess shot in leg by unidentified youths

Boonlua Chatree

A pair of young motorcyclists are believed responsible for a 42-year-old hostess being shot in the leg at a Soi 8 beer bar.

Police were called to Classic Bar near the corner of Second Road around 1:30 a.m. July 6. Sangwan Sirimat, the bar’s owner, said the victim had already been taken to Pattaya Memorial Hospital.

Investigators found Kaesorn Rattanamaneekul being prepared for surgery to remove the bullet from her leg.

Sangwan told police she’d been sitting in front of the bar with her staff when a pair of young men rode by on motorbikes. She then heard two loud bangs and Kaesorn, who had been playing pool, cried out in pain. Tourists in the bar scattered at the gun shots.

The bar owner said she didn’t know for sure where the shots came from, but police assume the youths fired the gun, either to cause trouble or accidentally. They were last seen riding toward Soi Buakaow.


Buddhist Lent begins next week

July 26 & 27

Devout Buddhists make merit during last year’s ceremonies.

This year, the Buddhist holy days of Asalaha Bucha and Khao Pansaa fall on July 26 and 27. Both are recognized public holidays, and therefore banks and most businesses will be closed. It is also against the rules to sell alcoholic beverages during the beginning of Buddhist Lent. Many activities are planned throughout the city, especially at our temples, and everyone is invited to take part.

Asalaha Bucha Day (July 26)

The Buddhist Holy Day of Asalaha Bucha falls on the 15th night (15 kham) of the full moon during the eighth month of the Buddhist Lunar calendar, this year equating to Monday, July 26. “Asalaha Bucha” means paying homage and worshiping on the day identified according to the lunar calendar during the eighth month, Ahsala being the name of the eighth month in the Pali language.

Asalaha Bucha Day is worshipped because of three important events occurring on the day. Called the “Triple Gem” (the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha), these commemorate the first sermon given by the Buddha, called the “Dharmachakapavattama Sutta” concerning the “Four Noble Truths” presented to the Buddha’s first five disciples. The sermon set in motion the “Wheel of Dharma”, which is the meaning of “Dharmachaka”.

The sermon concluded that: 1. All things are a source of suffering from the constant cycle of birth, disease, old age and death. 2. Desire or the inability to obtain what one desires is the cause of suffering resulting from cause and effect. 3. Freedom from suffering can be obtained after the complete cessation of desire. 4. The last of the Four Noble Truths is the “Middle Way”, or the path between extremes of asceticism and indulgence leading to the eliminating of desire. The Eight-Fold Path consists of possessing the correct: Views, Resolve, Speech, Conduct, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Meditation (or Concentration).

Secondly, the day is considered to be the birth of Buddhism, as the Buddha departed the location where he obtained his enlightenment two months earlier and then, coming to a forest area in the city of Pharansi, he showed favour to five ascetics who became his followers.

The third of the Triple Gems is the Sangha. On this same day, the first person listened to the Buddha’s sermon, realising the truths contained therein and becoming the first Buddhist monk. This created the Buddhist order “Sangha” and the day is known as “Sangha Day” as well as Ahsala Bucha Day.

The Thai government established the observance of Asalaha Bucha Day in 1958. Buddhist temples throughout the Kingdom arrange ceremonies venerating these important historic events. Devout Buddhists participate in the ceremonies by presenting offerings to monks, listening to sermons and performing ritual prayers.

The entire day is revered and certain precepts are adhered to by the more devout Buddhist, and by those who have the inclination and opportunity to do so. The Wien Thien ritual ceremony is performed in the evening as many go to nearby temples bringing candles, flowers and joss sticks, completing three trips walking around the temple area sacred grounds.

Khao Pansaa
(July 27)

The day following the start of Buddhist Lent (Asalaha Bucha Day) another important Buddhist holy day begins in Thailand with the custom called Khao Pansaa. This day falls on the first full moon (1 kham) of the Buddhist lunar calendar during the eighth month of every year, which this year equates to Tuesday, July 27, and ends on the 15th full moon (15 kham) of the 11th month of the Buddhist calendar, usually in mid-October. During a leap ear it is identified during the second eighth month.

The term “Khao Pansaa” can also translate to entering the months of the rainy season when monks return to the temple for the duration of the rains, usually to the temple where they were ordained. They stay there for approximately three months. The monks are not supposed to depart the temple, or stay overnight at any other location during the months of rain. Although the rainy season is considered to be longer than three months, lasting up to four or even more, monks are only required to remain at the temples for three months. During the last period of the rainy season they can then go elsewhere when the Katin ceremony is performed, whereby new robes are presented to the monks at the temples.

Initially, monks were discouraged from travelling during the rainy season because of the idea that it was inappropriate to walk about during the rainy season when many small living creatures were about, which could be accidentally stepped on. This included the rice crops. Inclement weather also made it difficult to get out and about. Therefore, it was established long ago that the monks would remain in temples during the rains for three months, discussing and studying Buddhist scriptures, following Buddhist disciplines, meditating and performing ritual ceremonies.

The custom of Khao Pansaa has continued to this day with three classes of ceremonies, a Royal ceremony conducted by the King of Thailand, ritual ceremonies for devout followers of Buddhism throughout the Kingdom and ceremonies performed by monks in the temples.

The Royal ceremony is similar to the ceremony performed by the general public, but more elaborate. HM the King and members of the Royal Family perform ritual ceremonies to pay homage to Buddhism, and present Khao Pansaa candles and traditional garments to Buddhist monks. The Royal Family also donates many other items used in these ceremonies.

Other followers of Buddhism all over Thailand will attend temples in the morning, bringing food, necessity items, money, the traditional candles, garments and ceremonial items for the monks, with flowers and candles in hand.

For those people having devout faith they may refrain from the recognised eight offences for the duration of the three month rainy season just as monks do, while others may give up a single vice, with yet others recognising the 5-8 offences for the day.

The ceremonies performed by monks in temples revolve around rituals accepting new monks, who take vows for periods up to the three months, with some staying even longer. Senior monks at each monastery perform other ceremonies leading followers in worship and prayer.

The two main items presented to monks during Khao Pansaa are the candles and garments worn by monks, specifically the bathing robe. The candles were essential in former times and needed for ceremonies, studying scriptures and performing various other functions. The candle offering has developed into a custom still followed.

The presentation of garments worn by monks is said to have originated from methods of bathing in former times, commonly done in community areas using streams, rivers, ponds and other sources of water, with monks requiring a bathing robe. The garments worn by monks continued to develop until the custom included presenting the entire arrangement worn by monks.

Many people take time away from their work on Khao Pansaa to recognise the importance of the Buddhist Holy Day. Everyone is invited to participate in the temple ceremonies and to refrain from offensive behaviour for the day, and to make the same effort thereafter.



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