North Pattaya Road was turned into sea of orange and white when thousands of people turned up to present alms to 2,600 orange-robed Buddhist monks on a mission to help their less-fortunate brethren.
The huge merit-making event in front of Pattaya City Hall Dec. 22 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 323 embattled Buddhist temples in Thailand’s Muslim-dominated south.
North Pattaya Road from the Samsai intersection to the Dolphin Roundabout is awash with saffron robed monks receiving alms from white clad Buddhists in the annual event to provide relief to 323 embattled Buddhist temples in Thailand’s violence-torn south.
The sea of orange robes flowed along North Road from the Samsai intersection to the Dolphin Roundabout. The road was closed to traffic and thousands made their way to make merit with the monks.
Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome and area MPs opened the 6 a.m. event with Vijit Thummasan, abbot at Sutthawas Temple and chief of area monks, leading 2,600 monks to accept alms, rice, dried food and daily necessities from Buddhists.
The Meditation for Moral Development of the World Association organized the government-sponsored event, its fifth annual event, 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.
As the sun begins to rise in North Pattaya, 2,600 saffron robed monks meditate, quietly waiting for the ceremony to begin.
Since 2008, the “Alms Giving for 2 Million Monks” project has raised more than 4,200 tons of rice.
The mayor noted this year’s ceremony included 600 more monks than previous events to mark 2,600 years of Buddhist Jayanti. It also aimed to “add virtue and prosperity for individuals and families for the New Year.”