January 2, 2017
Where people from across the Kingdom of Thailand, give offerings to an ancient relic, that in turn can make worshipers dreams come true – Luang Pho Sothon Celebrating Fairs
When: It starts from the 14th day of the waxing – moon of the 5th lunar month, (April) to the 1st day of the waning moon, in the fifth month of the lunar calendar.
Where: Wat Sothon Wararam Worawihan. Municipality of Mueang Chachoengsao alongside the Bang Pakong River. Chachoengsao Province. Central Thailand
Luang Pho Sothon Celebrating Fairs
This 3 day and nights fair, is held annually in the 5th lunar month; to celebrate the Buddha image of Phra Phuttha Sothon. The image is regarded as one of the most revered Buddha images in Thailand, it is said that it has divine power, to grant the worshipers’ wishes. The graceful golden Buddha image in meditation posture, measures 1.65 metres wide at the lap and 1.98 metres high.
It sits peacefully enshrined in the ordination hall (“ubosot”), together with 20 other different Buddha images. It is during such ceremonies that lay people will make offerings; these will normally consist of a candle, flowers (often a lotus), a small square of gold leaf and three incense sticks. The gold leaf is added to Buddha images. (See more on the act of Wai phra)
The image’s importance to the Thai people
The importance of the image to the local people, is seen in both the Provincial Seal, which shows the ordination hall, and in the provincial slogan: The Bountiful Bang Pakong River, the Sacred Buddha Image of Luangpho Sothon, Phraya Si Sunthon the Scholar of Thai Language, and the Pristine Ang Rue Nai Forest.
The present Wat took 15 years to complete; its peak is 84 metres high and is decorated, with five golden umbrellas weighing a total of 77 kilogram’s. While it is now one of Thailand’s largest temples the original temple was initially named ‘Wat Hong.
The celebrations and the procession, of a replica of Luangpho Sothon, taken by land and by river, is the largest annual event of the province. The three days are cloaked in a traditional Thai fair, which have for countless centuries been carried out on temple grounds throughout the kingdom.
The fair is a combination of the local people’s desire to meet their neighbours, sell their wares, pray and ask the enshrined images for good fortune over the coming months. Added to the festivities are daily performances by Thai dancers, dressed in traditional costume, who for a small donation will entertain the worshipers. (It is said that this is similar to the performances seen at the Four-Faced Buddha at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok).
The nearby river front also gives you the opportunity to take a Long-tailed boat service to and from the city market.
Legend of the Three Buddha’s
Legend tells, during the Ayutthaya period (1351 to 1767), its neighbour Myanmar invaded the Kingdom on several occasions, looting its temples. During the second such invasion (mid-eighteenth Century), the devotees of a temple smeared mud on three golden Buddha statues and placed them into rafts, to drift away with the river flow.
Three of the Buddha statues floated down the Pakong River passing through Prachin Buri. The statues were first seen in Chachoengsao by local people, who no matter how hard they tried could not pull them all to shore. A monk came to their aid and set up an altar, after chanting a prayer, he tied a blessed cord on the hand of one of the Buddha images – Luang Phor Sothorn. Amazingly, the image was easily pulled ashore, it has rested in Wat Sothorn ever since.
The biggest statue (Luang Phor Baan Laem), continued its course until the people of Baan Laem in Samut Songkhram province, pulled it ashore and enshrined it in Wat Baan Laem. The smallest image (Luang Phor Tor), floated on until it reached, Samut Prakan province, where it was enshrined by local people in Wat Bang Li.
While there is very little glitz and glamour to this event, it is the perfect opportunity for those that want to see more of the real Thailand, how its peoples beliefs and customs have changed little in centuries
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