End of the Rains Retreat (October-November)
Venue: Nationwide with spectacular events in the northeast
three months restricted to their temples, learning dharma
and practicing meditation, the Buddhist monks once again return
to their social duties. At the end of Buddhist Lent, it's
also time for another big celebration, referred to as 'Ok
Phansa.' Thai Buddhists celebrate this occasion by offering
food and lavish gifts to monks.
legend of Ok Phansa has it that the Lord Buddha retreated
to heaven to deliver a sermon to his mother who had died seven
days after his birth. After staying there for three months,
the Lord Buddha completed his mission and returned to earth.
People welcomed his return with great joy and excitement.
Even the gods and goddesses joined in the ceremonies welcoming
the Lord Buddha.
from heaven on the triple stairways of gold, silver and precious
gems were an escort of angels, the monks who followed Lord
Buddha to heaven and the Lord Buddha himself at the center.
The people made special offerings of foods, flowers and gifts
to celebrate the return of the Lord Buddha.
this legend, it became a tradition that Buddhist monks also
need three months of retreat. During this time, they study
the scriptures and practice meditation. They are forbidden
from staying elsewhere outside the temples. After three months,
the monks will once again adopt their social responsibilities
that include preaching and teaching dharma to the people.
many Ok Phansa ceremonies, a Buddha image is placed in a decorated
cart and brought down from a hill, just like the legendary
descent from heaven. People line up along the route and place
offerings of food in large alms bowls before the image and
also to the monks who follow.
the succeeding days after lent, monks are offered new robes
in a ceremony called 'Thod Kathin'. This merit-making ceremony
lasts for a month and is practiced nationwide.
this occasion, lavish celebrations are organized throughout
the kingdom. In the central region, the ceremony is called
'Tak Bat Devo' which means "offering of food to the Buddhist
monks.' The people in the south call the ceremony 'Chak Phra',
which means the 'pulling of the Buddhist monks.'
Phra is celebrated in southern provinces such as Nakhon Si
Thammarat, Pattani, Phattalung, Songkhla and Yala. But the
most impressive celebrations take place on the Tapi River
in Surat Thani where the ceremony is organized both on land
and in the river.
in the northeastern region also celebrate this auspicious
occasion. Outstanding ceremonies in the northeast include
the Wax Castle festival in Sakon Nakhon and the Lai Rua Fai
festival in Nakhon Phanom. Both are well-recognized Ok Phansa
celebrations. The events are made all the more impressive
with decorated traditional boat races, cultural performances,
parades and regattas.
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