200 dig up Pattaya graves for Buddhist rites

Friday, 21 March 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 12 By  Surasak Huasoon

About 200 members of Sawang organizations in Pattaya and Ratchaburi dug up Pattaya graveyard internees without families to clean bones and prepare them for a Buddhist cremation ceremony.

Sawang Boriboon Thammasathan Foundation President Visit Chaowalitnittithum and top officers welcomed Somchai Wetchawithun, president of the Sawang Ratchaburi Foundation and members to the Soi Siam Country Club cemetery for the March 7 cleanup, the fifth performed in 40 days by the central Thailand organization around the kingdom.

Members of Sawang organizations in Pattaya and Ratchaburi perform the grave cleaning for corpses without relatives ceremony in Pattaya.Members of Sawang organizations in Pattaya and Ratchaburi perform the grave cleaning for corpses without relatives ceremony in Pattaya.

The ceremony included believers bowing before the corpses and praying to spirits. It also gave some who didn’t realize they had family in the graveyard an opportunity to properly bury their relatives.

The grave-cleaning ceremony originated from China and spread to Thailand. Legend purports that China had suffered flooding followed by an epidemic, leading to villagers falling ill and dying.

However, there was one monk, Taihongkong, who did not abhor the dead bodies and elicited living relatives to search for dead bodies to perform funeral rites sending their souls at peace. This act was spread far and wide, thus, it was passed on to the following generation, who considered this act as a beautiful act of humanity becoming what is known today as grave cleaning for corpses without relatives.

During grave cleaning, attendees must not under any circumstances comment to its smell and must not spit; these prohibitions have been passed on till today. For this grave cleaning, Sawang Ratchaburi Foundation dug up over 100 male and female graves for funeral rites.

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