CLASSIFIEDS ONLY THB 2,500 + VAT FOR 3 LANGUAGES The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News
The Phuket News Phuket Culture
The Phuket News Arts | Community | Culture | Dining | Education | Phuket Entertainment | Environment | Health | People | Technology | Travel | World Entertainment XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

All About Buddhism: Songkran then and now

In All About Buddhism last week, we discussed the Prince of Charity as well as a man who antagonised him named Chuchok. The Buddha lived as the Prince of Charity in a past life just prior to the life in which he would reign as Buddha. The Prince of Charity is celebrated for giving away all of his possessions to the poor. Mr Chuchok bought the prince’s children but mistreated them, which makes him a bad person.

culture,


Jason Jellison

Friday 13 April 2018, 09:00AM


Yet, some Thai people pay reverence to Chuchok’s image because they have forgotten the finer details of the story (see last week’s column about this, here).

Historically, Thai people re-enacted this story once a year in an annual festival that was dedicated to Prince Vessantara. Perhaps nowhere in Thailand was this festival more vibrant than in Isarn. Here, this story was preserved on long scrolls that would be donated once a year and guests were sent for by special dispatch. The scrolls usually were crafted anonymously.

Prior to the festival, the village would receive an immaculate cleaning. Rows of Thai Buddhist flags bearing the symbol of the “Wheel of Law” lined the main thorough-fair and ornamental dress was commissioned for all the villagers. Old men weaved bamboo baskets and old women rolled handmade cigarettes, betel nut chews and rice balls: each numbering 1,000.

As the scrolls are donated once a year, the basic story has largely stayed intact. The scrolls are not read to simply recite the story, but rather to invite the prince and his family back into the world of the living. The sacred act of posting the scroll beckoned the prince’s spirit. The temple would become his palace for the two-day festival. Special boundaries would be laid-out in the temple where Mara, the Buddhist devil, could not enter.

In antiquity, the scrolls were rather black and white. Long candles were donated by households, bamboo stages were brought in that would be lavishly decorated and special floats were made by hand. Each house commissioned a handmade plate and elephants were sometimes used for re-enactments. Special food was also baked, particularly khao tom mat, a sweet treat.

Women carried flowers. Men beat the village drum. Boys played music on mouth organs. Onlookers wailed in unselfconscious displays of pure emotion. Ribbons of good luck were tied on the villagers’ wrists. Junior monks facing each other simultaneously read in rapid verse. Holy water in a sacred tub called ang nammon was on hand, as well as another tub containing turtles and fish.

Back then, the festival could be during the week, so the date was planned far-ahead and the long reading of The Prince of Charity could take up to 24 hours (services sometimes started at four in the morning).

As the story goes, Prince Vessentara had accrued the merit of 500 good previous lifetimes and the Thai Buddhist view of perfect generosity leading to karmic success comes from this 13-chapter story. This is because he endured the ruin of his entire family in a selfless act of pure charity.

World Cup League @ BISP

The story is still crafted on hand-made scrolls, but Thai people probably won’t tell you who the craftsman was. However, sometimes you can figure it out from particular spelling features. Moreover, Laotian scrolls can be spotted by a layperson based on alphabetic differences.

Alas, a lot is changing. Many ancient Buddhist texts were not saved and many other service items became the trinkets of private collectors; so this part of Thai culture has largely been hidden from the West.

Moreover, many of Isarn’s traditional wooden buildings are being obliterated in favour of concrete. Nowadays, Buddhist stories are often abbreviated. Additionally, the Western work-week has arrived; so what was once a great spectacle now is only a shorter weekend affair.

Loud-speakers and microphones have replaced hand-crafted platforms and ornaments. Black and white has given way to full colour. The artwork is often no longer gender specific, as it once was and the new texts are far more graphic.

However, the biggest change is a pronounced drop in temple attendance. So, the great Buddhist stories are fading and that’s why some people pay homage to the wrong image, even though their intentions are good.

As F Scott Fitzgerald might say, changing times bring changing traditions. So, we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.


All About Buddhism is a monthly column in The Phuket News where I take readers on my exotic journey into Thai Buddhism and debunk a number of myths about Buddhism. If you have any specific queries, or ideas for articles, please let us know. Email editor1@classactmedia.co.th and we will do our best to accommodate your interests.

 

 

The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Comment on this story
* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.
Comments Here:

Comments Left: Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail: (No Hotmail, Live, MSN and Outlook accepted at this time)
Security:
   => Forget password?

Be the first to comment.

The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments


Phuket official blames ‘official processes’ for lifeguard fiasco

How ever cam Phuket become a SMART island with such kind of 'Officials'? Bureaucrats, not able to handle their own bureaucracy. Why not mak...(Read More)


Phuket monkey ‘birth control’ to go to public opinion

What is the catch in pulling the 'public opinion card' by Government officials? It is a Government safety and health responsibility. If sign...(Read More)


Phuket Governor orders public vote on marina project amid concerns over coral damage

Woops, good golly gosh. Hang on a moment, I'll get my violin out.Thailand has some of the best, most sustainable fisheries management practices in...(Read More)


Phuket laundry truck wipeout still under investigation

Hope PN does not let this case disappear, there is so much that does not match many other issues in Chalong Police Station....(Read More)


Phuket official blames ‘official processes’ for lifeguard fiasco

“The process of drafting and offering an entirely new contract is very difficult and complicated,” Mr Satien said. Actually, it isn't. The...(Read More)


Phuket official blames ‘official processes’ for lifeguard fiasco

Snore...Sounds like a bunch of bickering children...ball-dropping finger-pointing children. Gotta love Mr Satien, “The process of drafting and offer...(Read More)


Phuket official blames ‘official processes’ for lifeguard fiasco

Only in Thailand could you see such stupidity, hang your heads in shame....(Read More)


Emerald Group CEO Sawit Ketroj seeks to reassure Phuket public, investors

Neither sad nor bitter,it's more like being very amused when reading something like:"The reason i rent is because these people can't sell...(Read More)


Dead or alive, search for whale shark continues off Phuket

As I said this is what Thai fishing boats do, they destroy all marine life caught in their long line nets, zero regulation/ sustainability, authoritie...(Read More)


Dead or alive, search for whale shark continues off Phuket

So.. we can "expect the penalty against him to be very serious"...like, somewhere along the lines of Premchai the jaguar killer and soup mak...(Read More)

The Phuket News
PHUKET NEWS
Phuket
Thailand
World
Business
Q A
Weird World
ARCHIVE
POLL
CURRENCY
WEATHER
PHUKET TIDE TABLE
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Technology
Phuket Travel
World Entertainment
Photo Galleries
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket
Thailand
World
SURF REPORT
PREDICTIONS
The Phuket News PHUKET CLASSIFIEDS
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
SEARCH CLASSIFIEDS
POST CLASSIFIED
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
POST EVENT
The Phuket News PHUKET DIRECTORY
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
POST LISTING
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Subscribe
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
CONTESTS
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
 
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2018 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.