Pattaya marks end of Buddhist Lent

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Buddhists make merit at their local temples during the Devorohana ceremony.

Pattaya-area Buddhists marked the end of Buddhist Lent by going to local temples for merit-making and commemorating Buddha’s descent from heaven via a staircase of crystal, silver and gold.

Auk Pansaa, which fell on Oct. 23, ends the three-month “rains retreat” monks make inside their temple so as not to trample rice crops during the rainy season.

It traditionally is followed the next day by ‘Tak Baht Devo’, the Buddhist merit-making ritual that is performed on the final day of the festival, which signals the end of the Buddhist Lent.

The word ‘Devo’ originates from the word “Devorohana” and refers to Buddhist celebrations marking the special occasion of the return of the Lord Buddha to earth, as mentioned in ancient Buddhist tales. This year it was celebrated on Oct. 24.

Pattaya residents celebrated the holy weekend by giving alms to monks and releasing birds for good luck at all area temples. Together they prayed and paid respect to images of their lord.

The merit-making continued for Devorohana, with believers offering sticky rice wrapped with banana or coconut leaves to monks before settling in to hear the story of how Buddha returned to earth after delivering a sermon for his mother in the Tawatimsa Heaven. At Wat Khao Baisri, 50,000 pieces of the sticky rice dish were offered.

According to Buddhist lore, Buddha’s mother died when he was very young and, unlike his aunt who raised him, never received the benefit of his teachings. She was destined to live for eons in the Tawatimsa Heaven before being reincarnated and continuing her path toward enlightenment. The lord took pity on her and decided to ascend to heaven to deliver a sermon that would deliver her into enlightenment quickly.

Following the sermon, the deities who protect all Buddhist temples paid respect to Lord Buddha by constructing a stairway of gold, silver and crystal to facilitate his return to earth. His journey down those stairs and the scene of thousands of heavenly beings paying homage to him along the way serve as the basis of the Devorohana ceremony.

Pattaya Buddhists offer alms to monks at Big Buddha Hill, as the monks simulate the Buddha’s descent from heaven via a staircase of crystal, silver and gold.

Youths release birds for good luck.

This youngster, like many grownups, donates to the poor to make merit.

Learning young – children give alms of rice and dried food.

People ring the bells at Wat Kao Phra Yai to invite prosperity.

Women at Wat Khao Baisri prepare sticky rice wrapped with banana or coconut leaves to offer to monks.