Relics parade kicks off Pattaya’s crusade to make Songkran cultural

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People line up to pour holy water on Buddha relics at last year’s event.
People line up to pour holy water on Buddha relics at last year’s event.

The Sanctuary of Truth again will parade Buddhist relics through Pattaya to kick off the city’s attempt at making Songkran a traditional holiday instead of the usual 10-day water fight.

Rebranded this year as the “Invitation of the Sarira”, or relics, the parade, which first started as a regular Songkran event in 2014, will again snake its way through Pattaya April 13.

The nine relics came from the Busabok Stupa, which stands in the Sanctuary of Truth’s central hall. Taken once a year from the high perch where they were placed in April 2009 by the late Supreme Patriarch, they are put on flower-laden floats every April 13 and carried to six stops in Banglamung District.

The parade gives residents and tourists an opportunity to pour holy water on the relics on Songkran Day to wish for prosperity and increase one’s glory leading to success according to Buddhism beliefs.

The procession begins at 7 a.m., stopping at Chonglom Temple at 8:45 a.m., Nong Ket Yai Temple at 9:45 a.m., the Pattaya Floating Market at 10:40 a.m., Walking Street at 2 p.m., the Beach-Central roads intersection at 3 p.m. and the Crystal Palace Hotel at 4:40 p.m. before heading back to the Naklua sanctuary.

One lane of affected roads near each stop will be closed while the parade is en route.

Meeting with Royal Thai Navy, Sawang Boriboon Tham­masathan Foundation, Pattaya Floating Market and other officials to plan Pattaya’s Songkran activities March 21, Deputy Mayor Vichien Pongpanit said the city also wants to see other traditional activities to reinforce traditional values, instead of making Songkran a water free-for-all filled with alcohol and scantily clad women.

Last year, Pattaya’s leaders tried their best to impose conservative values on the city’s rollicking holiday by having people bathe a Buddha statue with holy water and distributing “pha yants”, fabrics bearing Pattaya’s symbol and blessed by monks that created a massive traffic jam as hundreds lined up on Beach Road to receive them.

The cultural crusade also made its way to a soggy Walking Street, where city council members and business owners walked the length of the entertainment district to open the Pattaya Songkran Festival that included long drummers and dance performances, dancing tourists, pha yants and other events scheduled each day through April 20.