Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Busy Times In Thailand






We have attended three funerals so far this month.  The remainder of this month and the start of November offer little time to rest and relax.  Although there will be little time for resting and relaxing, the next three weeks offer plenty of opportunities for enjoyment and fun.  They will also present some unique opportunities to take some more photographs to share and experiences to write about of some unique cultural and events here in Thailand.



This week, 26-30 October is the Sakon Nakhon Wax Festival.  The festival celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent. During the festival large and intricate bees wax sculptures are created.  The highlight of the festival is a procession of the sculptures through the downtown area.  Two years ago, Duang and I attended a similar festival for the start of Buddhist Lent in Ubon Ratchatani.  We witnessed the beauty and grandeur of the Ubon Ratchathani nighttime procession.

For the Sakon Nakhon Wax Festival, we are going to observe the construction of the wax sculptures.  Since we can not attend the procession, we will focus on the activities and efforts leading up to the grand parade.

Sakon Nakhon is two hours east of our home.  It should be very interesting including staying in a $21.64 a night hotel.

Villagers Make Merit In Sala that is Under Construction In Tahsang Village
The reason that we can not witness the procession in Sakon Nakhon is that we will be attending a very special merit making ritual in Tahsang Village.  I have written before that there are two Wats in Tahsang Village - one inside the village, "Inside" where "Rocketman" stays and another outside, "Outside" in the middle of the sugar cane fields and on the edge of the flood plain.  My wife and her family prefer the "Outside" Wat.  two years ago the worship hall, "Sala" was torn down.  Since then a new Sala has been periodically constructed.  Periodically constructed?  Yes.  As the people have enough money, the turnkey contractor performs the next phase of construction.

When we were in America, Duang and I each purchased a column in the Sala.  When I was there on the 15th I noticed that no names were placed on the columns.  I was wondering which one was mine.  Duang told me that when construction was completed, names would then be placed.  Since "my" column had not been identified yet, I told the Monks through Duang that I wanted the column on the left hand side of the door to be mine.  Why?  It is the column that I always lean against to put my shoes on.  I am the only person that I have seen that wears laced up shoes.  People remove their shoes before entering the sala.  Since I don't wear flip-flops, putting on my shoes is a little more complicated than the other people.  I lean against the column to maintain my balance to put on and lace up my shoes.  Everyone had a good laugh at my request.

The Sala has been roughed in - the roof is on, the bare concrete slab has been poured, and the some of the short side walls have been erected.  Workman have just started installing the decoration, Shan or Thai Yai style filigree on the edges of the roof.

During Buddhist Lent, Monks can not travel about the countryside.  They are restricted to sleeping in their home Wat.  October 30th is OK Panhsa day, the end of the Buddhist Lent or Retreat Season.  To help gather donations to complete or continue construction of the Tahsang Village Sala, 100 Monks will be visiting and spending the night.  This will make for a grand merit making opportunity for the local people.  Duang and I are donating the drinking water for the Monks.  I have also been asked to take some photographs of the ritual.

Long Boat Racing In Kumphawapi
The next week, 3rd and 4th of November is the Long Boat racing Festival in nearby Kumphawapi.  We had attended the event two years ago and found it very entertaining.

Royal Barges On Display at Royal Barge Museum
November 9th is a very perhaps an extremely important event.  On Friday, November 9, in Bangkok, there will  be a Royal Barge Procession on the Chao Phraya River.  This will be the 16th time during the King's 66 year reign that there has been such a procession.  The purpose of the procession is to transport the Crown Prince to Wat Arun where he will present robes to the Monks to commemorate the end of Buddhist Lent and his father's birthday on December 5th.

We will be staying at a hotel right at the water's edge.  I will be taking still photographs and Duang will be using our movie camera to document the procession of 52 barges and 2,200 costumed sailors rowing the barges.

In one of our trips to Bangkok as part of the process to obtain a via for Duang to go the USA, we had spent a couple of hours at the Royal Barge Museum where some of the barges are kept on display.  During our visit one of the barges was being restored.  It will be exciting to see that barge completed, manned and underway.  Of course my greatest anticipation is to see the splendid barge, Suphannahong (Golden Swan) pass by.  Suphannahong is the King's personal personal barge.  HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will be on the Suphannahong representing the King and Royal family.

About the time that I have finished editing all the photographs and writing about the above events, it will be time for the rice harvest,  holiday of Loi Krathong, Hmong New Years in Lao, Christmas, and New Years and who know what else to witness - always something to do and something to learn.

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