Today, all the schools and many businesses are closed to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday. I went with the students and teachers of Anjali House to the local pagoda at Wat Svai to take part in the rituals. I do love it when I have the chance to participate in these events, taking part alongside the locals. It provides a very unique look into the culture, especially when the ceremony is a relatively small one. While Buddha’s Birthday is an important date on the religious calendar, not everyone celebrates it. The Director of Anjali House believes it is an important part of the children’s cultural education, though, and I agree with her. It’s also an important part of mine.FullSizeRender[2]FullSizeRender[3]
We all walked together the short distance from the school to the pagoda, carrying the offerings we would be taking to the monks. Music was playing over the loudspeaker and monks were carrying colourful flags on long poles which they placed in the ground to line the pathway to the pagoda. Once there, we all sat on the floor inside the pagoda in the typical Buddhist way — either on knees or with legs bent off to one side. It’s definitely a position you have to get used to! A monk sat facing us and said some prayers which led to us touching our foreheads three times and occasionally touching our heads to the floor. Then we presented our offerings to the monk — a large container of rice, bananas, flowers, candles, an envelope of money and several 2-litre bottles of soda (!). Afterwards, the monk gave us his blessing and we all walked back to Anjali, and then home for a day off.FullSizeRender[1]
FullSizeRender[4]Although Wat Svai is a small pagoda, the one nearer to my guesthouse is quite large and important. Wat Damnak will have over a thousand monks gathering there today, and this afternoon there will be a procession. I have two meetings this afternoon, but I hope I’m able to get back in time to see it. FullSizeRender