Buddhists turn out for Big Buddha statue fundraiser

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Hundreds of Buddhists from around Thailand converged on Bali Hai Pier to pray and donate funds toward construction of the world’s largest Buddha statue, planned for Chaiyaphum Province.

Monk Tipakorn Rinthaisong, chairman of the Phra Yai Chaiyaphum (Big Buddha Chaiyaphum) Foundation, led the March 24 merit-making ceremony at Bali Hai Pier.

The foundation’s goal is to cast a brass image of Buddha that is 199 meters tall with a base 99 meters wide. Estimated to cost 10 billion baht (about 333 million US dollars), the statue would sit in Nafaai Sub-district with a mission to protect the earth and its inhabitants.

Once funds are collected, construction is estimated to take seven years.

Thousands of people from across the country flocked to Bali Hai pier for the merit making ceremony. Thousands of people from across the country flocked to Bali Hai pier for the merit making ceremony.

The Bali Hai ceremony saw devotees reach into their pockets to help fund the foundation of the statue. They also prayed to the three jewels of Buddhism and joined in dance and music.

Thailand is already home to the world’s largest Buddha statue. But Phuket’s 45-meter-tall, 25-meter-wide “Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha” would pale in comparison to the planned Chaiyaphum figure. Construction is still ongoing, with costs already reaching 120 million baht.