Tradition, candles highlight double Buddhist holiday celebration

Friday, 22 July 2011 From Issue Vol. XIX No. 29 By  Pattaya Mail Reporters

The Greater Pattaya area celebrated summer’s double Buddhist holiday, partaking in traditional ceremony for Asalaha Bucha Day then lighting up candles for Khao Phansa, also known as Buddhist Lent.

From Naklua’s Sanctuary of Truth to South Pattaya’s Chaimongkol Temple and beyond, Thais queued up July 15 to donate rice, dried food and robes to monks and recite prayers. Many took part in the sacred Wien Thien ritual, triple circumambulations of the Buddhist relics, an age-old tradition.

Beautiful art and culture are the highlight of the candle parade down Beach Road. Throughout the greater Pattaya area, folks young and old celebrated two of the most revered Buddhist Holy Days this past weekend, Asalaha Bucha Day and Khao Phansa.  Beautiful art and culture are the highlight of the candle parade down Beach Road. Throughout the greater Pattaya area, folks young and old celebrated two of the most revered Buddhist Holy Days this past weekend, Asalaha Bucha Day and Khao Phansa.

Asalaha Bucha Day marks the anniversary of Lord Buddha’s first sermon. That sermon concerned the Four Noble Truths presented to Buddha’s first five disciples in the forest of Esipatana Marukatayawan, in the Paranasi District in India. This set in motion the Wheel of Dharma.

At the Sanctuary of Truth, ten monks preached Dharma on discipline, the Lord Buddha’s achievements in Dharma study, and the history of spirits, the Deva and sanctity according to the scriptures.

Teachers and students from the Redemptorist School for the Blind offer their Buddhist Lent Candle and necessities to local monks.Teachers and students from the Redemptorist School for the Blind offer their Buddhist Lent Candle and necessities to local monks.

Pichan Wiriyaphan (executive of Ancient City Co.) gave alms for the devotion of parents and the former Kings of Siam. Afterward, Naowarat Khakhay, president of the Pattaya Cultural Council, said the dried food and rice given as alms would help support the Banglamung Home for Boys.

Students from Pattaya School #5 present necessities to monks at Wat Nong Or.Students from Pattaya School #5 present necessities to monks at Wat Nong Or.

Downtown, the scene was livelier with South Road full of temple-goers. Younger couples fled the crowds and went to give alms on Pratamnak Hill, mixing tradition with a modern romantic holiday.

Surrounding Asalaha Bucha Day were commemorations to mark the start of Buddhist Lent. Around the area, candle parades were the order of the day, with Pattaya’s among the most celebrated.

Monks lead a candlelight Wien Thien ceremony in Sattahip.Monks lead a candlelight Wien Thien ceremony in Sattahip.

Festivities actually began July 14 with students from Pattaya’s 11 public schools and others gathering to decorate candles to be judged on both beauty and creativity. An afternoon parade carried the candles on lavish floats down Beach Road where they were parked near Walking Street for display. Pedestrians enjoyed the exhibit more than drivers, however, due to the massive gridlock it caused downtown.

Pattaya School No. 2 won the prize for most beautiful candle, winning 20,000 baht and an honorary shrine. School No. 9 finished second with 15,000 baht and School No. 1 won 10,000 baht for third place.

Students lead a small candle cart with beautiful flower decorations, and a beautiful young flower inside, in a Wien Thien ceremony for the Redemptorist School for the Blind.Students lead a small candle cart with beautiful flower decorations, and a beautiful young flower inside, in a Wien Thien ceremony for the Redemptorist School for the Blind.

The most-creative candle award went to Pattaya School No. 8, followed by Schools No. 3 and Photisampan Pittayakarn School. Pattaya School No. 9 won the candle parade prize worth 10,000 baht with schools 6 and 2 winning runner-up awards.

At Nong Nooch Tropical Garden, nine candles molded at the tourist attraction were presented to temples in Sattahip. District Chief Chaichan Iamcharoen and park director Kampol Tansajja made the donation to the Sattahip, Nongjabtao, Khaobampenbun, Bangsarae Kongkaram, Samakkeebanpot, Payub, Amparam, Khao Kantamat, and Najomtien temples July 15.

Nong Nooch always puts on an elaborate celebration, and this year is no exception.Nong Nooch always puts on an elaborate celebration, and this year is no exception.

Kampol also led Nong Nooch’s candle parade, highlighted by dancers and elephants.

Blind students also got into the parade at Pattaya’s Redemptorist School. Principal Aurora Sribuapan led more than 100 students and teachers in a procession to donate candles to Phothisampan Temple.

Pattaya School #2 won first prize in the vehicle beauty category during the annual candle parade down Beach Road.Pattaya School #2 won first prize in the vehicle beauty category during the annual candle parade down Beach Road.

The blind children engaged in Thai folk dances over the 1.5 km trek to Phothisampan and did the traditional three laps around the clock there before formally presenting the candles to the temple. They also donated nine sets of robes and necessities to monks there.

Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome leads administrators in molding Buddhist Lent candles at Wat Nong Or.Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome leads administrators in molding Buddhist Lent candles at Wat Nong Or.

Khao Phansa, as the start of lent is known, marks the formal start of the traditional rainy season where monks are confined to temple grounds to avoid stepping on new rice crops as they go out to seek alms.

Donations and food and rice are supplemented this time of year with candles, to help the monks reach enlightenment as they stay at the temple studying Dharma.

Monks perform ancient Buddhist prayers at the Sanctuary of Truth.Monks perform ancient Buddhist prayers at the Sanctuary of Truth.

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