05 Jun 2014
VISAKHA BUCHA (Vesak) means the worship of the Buddha on the full moon day of the sixth lunar month. It usually falls in May. In the case of a year with an extra eighth lunar month–Adhikamasa (there are 13 full moons in that year)– the Visakha Bucha Day falls on the full moon day of the seventh lunar month. This year it was on May 13.
The Vesak full moon day (The full moon day of Sixth lunar month)
Visakha Bucha Day is one of the most important days in Buddhism because of three important incidents in the life of The Buddha, i.e. the birth, the enlightenment and the passing away, miraculously fall on the same month and date, the Vesak full moon day. .So each year, Buddhists throughout the world gather together to perform the worship to recollect the wisdom, purity and compassion of the Buddha.
The Buddha was a king by birth. His clan name was Gotama. He was born in Sakya Kingdom, eighty years before the Buddhist Era (around 2625 year ago), at Lumbini Park (now called Rummindel, in Nepal, north of India), in Madhayama Pradesa, located between Kapilavastu, capital of the Sakya Kingdom and Devadaha, capital of the Koliya Kingdom, on Friday, the Vesak full moon day in the year of the dog.
Prince Siddhatha (the Buddha’s personal name) was the son of King Suddhodana and Queen Sirimahamaya. On his birthday, Queen Sirimahamaya who was pregnant, wanted to pay a visit to Devadaha wich was her native country.
In the morning of the Vesak Full moon day, the Queen left Kapilavastu on a visit to Devadaha. Approaching a lovely park of Sals trees called Lumbini, located between the two capitals but nearer to Devadaha, the Queen wanted to visit the park and when she arrived at a Sal tree she started contractions and gave birth to a son there. When the Kings of Kapilavastu and Devadaha learned this, they were very happy and arranged a procession back to Kapilavastu.
Prince Siddhatta was brought up in the midst of luxury, led the happy life of a privileged youth and married at the age of 16 to Princess Yasodhara or Bimba who bore him a son, Rahula.
He discontened and took on the life of a wandering ascetic a the bank of the Anoma River. He was then 29.
He studied the mystic practices of the foremost Brahmin ascetics and realized that such practices were not the way to enlightenment. He went on his own way applying the reflective thought of conscious meditation to a rational simple life of moderation.
At the age of 35, he attained Enlightenment at Uruvelasenanigama subdistrict, Magadha State, (nowadays, located in the area of Buddha Kaya, Bihar State, India), on Wednesday, the Vesak Full moon day, the year of the cock, forty five years before the Buddhist Era.
The Dhamma discovered by the Buddha was Ariyasacca or the Four Noble Truths, namely:
The Noble Truth of Suffering
The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering
The Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering
The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Extinction of Suffering
After having attained Enlightenment, the Buddha wandered from place to place teaching his discoveries to people who are accessible to instruction, helping large numbers of them achieve various levels of spiritual attainment. He sent his followers to spread Buddhism in capitals, cities and upcountry, until Buddhism was firmly established and widely spread.
The Buddha passed away on Tuesday, the Vesak full moon day in the year of the small snake under the two Sal trees in the Sala Grove of the Mallas in Kusinara, capital of the Malla State, (nowadays located in Kusinagara of Uttrarapradesa, India) at the age of eighty (around 2545 years ago).
The performance of the rituals on Visakha Bucha day had been continuously observed in Jambudavipa or India, the motherland of Buddhism, for a long time before Buddhism spread to Sri Lanka and Thailand. There, the Visakha worship has been continually observed to the present day.
In Thailand, Visakha Bucha observance began during the Sukhuthai period (around 700 years ago), because of the close religious relations between Thailand and Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan monks came to propagate Buddhism in Thailand and were highly respected. Thai monks also went to study in Sri Lanka. It’s believed that, those monks introduced this ceremony to the King and people at that time.
09 May 2014
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony was probably, in the old times, the rite designed to remind the farmers and to give an auspicious beginning to the new planting season especially the rice farming that is the major source of food. The leader or the rulers of the country preside over the ceremony when the planting seasons begin. The leader or the rulers of the country preside over the ceremony when the planting seasons begin.
After some times passed, the Brahmanic rite called Ploughing ceremony was then introduced. Its purpose is to encourage the power and happiness. Bhraman were instructors for the ceremony. The king or the leader of the country may designate this duty to a respective high-ranking officer to perform the ceremony as Phraya Raekna, Lord of the Ploughing Ceremony. The roles of the queen or wives who had to help ploughing are designated to four celestial maidens, called the queen of sowing ceremony, assisting Phraya Raekna by carrying seeds containers and distribute the seeds after Phraya Raekna had ploughed the ground. The Royal Ploughing Ceremony has been annually performed for thousands of years in several countries such as China and India.
In Thailand, this ceremony has been performed since Sukhothai was the capital. It had been continued in Ayuthaya and Ratanakhosindhu (Bangkok) period. The Royal Ploughing ceremony performed during the reign of King Rama I, II, and III was purely the Bhramanic rite as it had been in Ayutthaya period i.e. there was no Buddhist monk participated in the ceremony.
In the reign of King Rama IV, the King had royal command to initiate the Buddhist rite together with the original ceremony. The reason was to prosper all the cereals brought into the ceremonial field. After the Buddhist rite that is performed in the first day, the Bhramanic ceremony The combined rite was so called the Royal Ploughing ceremony that lasts for 2 days.
15 April 2014
As you all may know that April was the month Thai people counts as the beginning month of Thai New Year which we have a festival called “Songkran” or known as the water splashing festival during April 13-15 every year.
The festival is traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends and neighbors. The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people, by capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing and then using this “blessed” water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder.
Besides the throwing of water, people celebrating Songkran may also go to a temple to pray and give food to monks. They may also cleanse Buddha images from household shrines as well as Buddha images at temple by gently pouring water mixed with a Thai fragrance over them. It is believed that doing this will bring good luck and prosperity for the New Year.
13 March 2014
National Elephant day in Thailand
Aware of the importance of elephant conservation, the Asian Elephant Foundation of Thailand and related non-governmental organizations in 1998 proposed that there should be a special day for elephants in Thailand. The proposal was submitted to the Coordinating Subcommittee for the Conservation of Thai Elephants under the National Identity Board. The Coordination Committee decided to pick 13 March each year as Thai Elephant Day, based on the fact that the Royal Forest Department designated the white elephant as the national animal of Thailand on 13 March 1963.
In May 1998, the Cabinet approved the designation of 13 March as Thai Elephant Day every year, starting in 1999.
The decision was aimed at raising and sustaining public awareness of the importance of elephants. It is also designed to promote public participation in elephant preservation.
Elephants used to be found all over Thailand, domesticated over hundreds of years to live in some level of harmony with people, but these days there is less call for a working elephant. You no longer need one to ride into war – not even for a film, nor to work as beasts of burden in the forestry industry, they are no longer commonplace, an anachronism in the modern world. Good elephant camps, although not perfect, are one of the few places left where humans and elephants can work together rather than being in conflict.
Koh Chang means elephant island, (koh, island, chang, elephant). No one seems to know for sure why, there is even a crazy tale which involves an elephant swimming over from the mainland. Boringly, the name most probably refers to the island’s size, but we like the slightly more fanciful idea that it is because of the shape of the right side of the island, as you approach by ferry, squint a little and you can see the head and body of a sleeping elephant. Ignoring those that might have swum here, the rest were brought to the islands from the mainland first to work and then for the amusement of the tourists, although it is sometimes hard to see what is amusing for the tourist let alone the elephant in marching along the scrubland path by the dusty main road.
12 April 2014
Koh Chang for sustainable tourism
Koh Chang in Trat province will be promoted as the first climate-friendly tourism destination in Asean when the Asean Economic Community takes effect at the end of 2015, says the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism
DASTA in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) hopes to change the image of Koh Chang and its vicinity from a general tourism site to a low-carbon destination, said director-general Nalikatibhag Sangsnit.
Many tourists, especially Europeans, prefer to travel to climate-friendly tourism sites. Both Dasta and GIZ saw the potential of the Koh Chang cluster, including Koh Mak and Koh Kood, to be a low-carbon tourism destination.
The cluster comprises 10% mainland area while the marine area covers the three main islands and 49 smaller ones. The total area is 4,280 square metres, divided into 15 local administration units under six districts. It is located in Trat province, close to Cambodia.
In 2009, GIZ revealed the average distribution of CO2 emissions was 19.74 kilogrammes per tourist per day.
For more information, please visit: www.dasta.or.th/en/