An annual Chinese-style food-offering ceremony in Sattahip shattered all previous records with more than 4,000 people turning out to receive handouts of rice and dried food.
Known as the ting krajad (making merit for the deceased without relatives), the Aug. 23 ceremony has its roots in the Chinese kong-tek funeral ritual in which people make cash offerings to wish the deceased auspiciousness in the afterworld. In the Thai version, money is replaced with baskets filled with rice, dried food and other items with the idea that doing good deeds will help those who’ve passed rest in peace.
Folks less fortunate were grateful to receive some help from local benevolent people taking part in the merit making ceremony.
Sattahip Mayor Narong Bunbancherdsri, chairman of the Sawang Rojanathammasathan Foundation, which sponsors the annual event, said most of those in attendance were from the Sattahip area and many more poor people than usual attended.
He believes the turnout is a reflection of the sluggish economy, which has seen record numbers of Thais lose their jobs as the country’s exports plummeted and the once roaring economy fell into a rare recession.
He said people in such straits will gladly take any free items offered. But the ritual is also beneficial for those doing the giving.
According to Mahayana Buddhist writings, ting krajad began in the age of Buddha when disciple Ananda was visited by a spirit who told him a monk would die in three days. Ananda asked what he could do and the spirit encouraged him to give alms to the monk in order to free him from pain. If he did so, the monk would live.