An early start to Buddhist Lent

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Early morning rush hour traffic came to a standstill in North Pattaya recently when the students from the Pattaya Redemptorist School for the Blind commemorated the start of this year’s Buddhist Lent.

As the school will be closing for the upcoming holiday, it was decided to bring the start of the Lent season forward, so the blind and visually impaired students paraded from the school on Soi 16 up to Wat Po Temple on Naklua Road.

The monks will soon start the three month period of Buddhist Lent.The monks will soon start the three month period of Buddhist Lent.

The procession was led by one of the younger female students, who was dressed in traditional costume and sitting on a floral decorated float. A group of traditional Thai dancers followed the float, which in turn was followed by the students marching past the stationary traffic.

At the end of the procession, and making more noise than is usually heard at eight o’clock on a Thursday morning, came the schools marching band.

Upon reaching their destination the students followed Buddhist tradition and paraded three times around the temple, before having an audience with the Abbot and four senor monks where the students presented alms and gifts.

Presenting new robes to the monks.Presenting new robes to the monks.

As the monks will remain in their temple for the next three months, gifts of dried food, soap, incense sticks and new robes were handed over by the children.

A very large candle was also presented to the monks. In past years the candles would provide light for the monks during the lent season, but in this modern era the large and elaborately carved candles are more symbolic than practical, so the students also presented some modern day neon light bulbs.

In return the children received blessing from the monks, before the Abbot spoke to the children about the importance of the Lent season.

Finally it was time to have a cool drink before making the journey back to school when once again they halted the traffic.

Even the younger children attended.Even the younger children attended.

Gifts for the monks.Gifts for the monks.

The leader of the parade.The leader of the parade.

The musicians made sure everyone in the neighbourhood knew something was happening.The musicians made sure everyone in the neighbourhood knew something was happening.

The children receive blessings from the monks.The children receive blessings from the monks.

Parading three times around the temple.Parading three times around the temple.