The huge merit-making event in front of Pattaya City Hall at 6 a.m. saw the crowd, dressed predominantly in white, donate rice and dried goods to support a nationwide drive by a million monks to provide relief to 266 embattled Buddhist temples in Thailand’s Muslim-dominated south.
This portrait of His Majesty the King graciously oversees the ceremony.
All the received alms will later be distributed in the south, and to victims of recent flooding in 26 provinces. The ceremony is counted as part of the 77 Provinces 1 Million Monks Alms Giving Project initiated by Phrathepyanmahamuni, the Abbot of Dhammakaya Temple.
The Dhammakaya Foundation, the Association of Meditation for World Moral Development and the World Moral Revival Club organized the government-sponsored event, the fourth since 2008, aimed at reviving and supporting religion. It was a family-oriented activity meant to reinforce traditional values as well as support the southern monks, who are often the targets of violence by Muslim separatists.
Banglamung District Ecclesiastical Chief Pharkru Vijidhammasarn presided over the ceremony and Pattaya Major Itthiphol Kunplome led the congregation in the merit-making by presenting a royal flower cone in front of HM the King’s portrait. The sea of orange robes flowed along North Road from the 3rd Road intersection to the Dolphin Roundabout.
Among the other guests was Culture Minister Sukumol Kunplome, Santsak Ngampichet, chairman of the Religion, Art and Culture Department, local political leaders and MPs.
The most respected monks in the area take pride of place at the event.
Over 20,000 people turned up at dawn Dec. 24 to present alms to 2,084 Buddhist monks.
Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome addresses the early morning gathering.
Over 2,000 monks receive alms from over 20,000 humble followers.
Even foreign guests are willing to help.
Bathed in the early morning light, monks pray for their brethren in the South.
Praying for peace, happiness and prosperity for all.
Dressed in white, praying for peace, reaching for serenity.
Young and old pray for a better future for the Kingdom.
The solemn ceremony has deep meaning for many.