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Thousands gather at Wat Ban Den to celebrate abbot’s birthday

Dressing up and partying for Chiang Mai Mardi Gras 2003

Graduation Day - a personal perspective

Thousands gather at Wat Ban Den to celebrate abbot’s birthday

Metinee Chaikuna

On February 22-23, local people and other Buddhists who believe in the abbot of Wat Ban Den, celebrated his 39th birthday in Wat Ban Den, Tambon Inthakin, Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai.

A Lanna style temple made of teakwood and granite tiles is one of Kru Ba Tuang’s works.

The 39 money trees, each made of 100,000 baht, donated by Buddhists who believe in Kru Ba Tuang.

Over 10,000 people from all over the country participated in the celebration that took place over two days. The abbot was presented with 39 money trees representing the abbot’s age, with each tree carrying 100,000 baht.

The abbot, whose full name is Kru Ba Chao Tuang Natseeloe, but people call him Kru Ba Tuang, was invited to act as abbot of the Wat Ban Den on March 9, 1988. At that time, the temple was neglected and untidy, with the buildings being very ancient and dilapidated. Kru Ba Tuang made his work to rebuild the temple to become the outstanding temple in Mae Taeng.

As part of that labor of love, Kru Ba Tuang has built around 15 items in and around Wat Ban Den. He has established a Lanna style temple made of teakwood and granite tiles, a sermon hall, the temple’s wall with lions images, monks’ canteen, toilets, monks’ residences, temple, meditation hall, great hall, temple road, drum hall, storehouse, Inthakin pole, and a Buddha image. These cost over 120 million baht, which was received by donations from the people.

International visitors also came to the celebration.

Kru Ba Tuang gave amulets to people who have done charitable works.

The 12 pagodas in Wat Ban Den.

Over 10,000 people came to celebrate the abbot’s 39th birthday.

One of his ongoing projects is a 12-pagoda building following Chinese star signs. The 12 pagodas, or chedis, come from the Lanna people’s mythology which believes that as they die, their spirits will stay in the pagoda of their star sign. Consequently, during their life they should make a pilgrimage to their zodiac sign. For many people, their star sign pagodas are too far away. Kru Ba Tuang decided that if all 12 pagodas were in the same place it would be more convenient for those who wanted to make their pilgrimage rather than having to go to another country.

The 12 pagodas construction will be supported by the money people gave to the abbot for his 39th anniversary. It is expected to be completed later this year.

Dressing up and partying for Chiang Mai Mardi Gras 2003

Carnival parties were taking place all over the world this weekend - Carnivale in Brazil, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Fasching in Germany, Gay & Lesbian parades all over Australia - and to celebrate the occasion, of course there was a private ‘Mardi Gras’ in Chiang Mai when Becky & Frank Weicks, both from New Orleans, invited their friends to an authentic Mardi Gras party.

Men and girls in black - from left Gai, from bake and bite, with a friend, Joy and Paul, tennis partners in disguise.

Mardi Gras is of course a costume affair - Michael and Marion came as themselves.

Chef Frank talking “New Orleans kitchen secrets” with Marion.

Posing for the press - Marion & Howard.

They thought of everything - the guests were even treated to a ‘lucky draw’, and the main prize was sponsored by ‘bake and bite’.

Our wonderful hosts explained how Mardi Gras was brought to New Orleans by the French in 1699. Throughout the years, Orleanians have added to the celebration by establishing krewes (organizations) which host parades and balls, and carnival has become an exciting holiday for both children and adults.

In Chiang Mai, the adults were definitely looking forward to Frank and Becky’s ‘almost traditional’ party - and everybody got dressed up, enjoyed homemade New Orleans Food, and just had a ball.

The house was beautifully decorated and the food just outstanding. Many people don’t know nowadays that Mardi Gras once was a catholic holiday, and the official colors of gold, purple and green were chosen in 1872 by King Rex. Purple represents justice, green stands for faith and gold for power.

Chit-chat on the couch (from left) Christian, Richard, Renee, and Dieter, while The Sultan himself just smiles away.

Enjoying delicious New Orleans food - Suchid and Bud, both long-time residents of Chiang Mai.

In for the best female costume — Celeste, Monika and Marion, in their most colorful outfits.

It showed that everybody felt at home at Becky and Frank’s residence.

Sherry, the redneck-bride (just married in time), must be due for delivery very soon. Twins, we wonder?

Obee Wan Kanobee meets Neptune - sorry, Howard talks with Christian.

Getting married soon - Rotarian Rachan and his lovely bride Sailuck (Noi).

Who wants to talk to the press? David and Noi are eager to take notes.

Becky & Frank thought of everything, even a traditional King Cake. For those who didn’t know what this is about, they even had an explanation. Traditional King Cake is similar to brioche, a sweetened yeast bread with an array of fillings. Up to this day, New Orleanians place a figure representing the Christ child inside the cake. In other cultures, the king cake might contain a coin, bean, pecan or pea. In medieval France, the coin finder was expected to make a contribution to a worthy cause. In other parts of Europe, those who find the bean are king or queen of the night and in New Orleans, the person who receives the piece of cake containing a ‘baby’ must provide the king cake for the next gathering of the season.

All in all it was a night to remember, and the guests shared friendship, fun and food.

Thank you very much Frank & Becky. We are all looking forward to 2004

Graduation Day - a personal perspective

Chiangmai Mail reporter Supatatt Dangkrueng’s fond memories

Spending four years or more in any university is worth remembering. My four years ran too fast and it is not possible to record all the good and bad memories in the life on campus. But I have many good memories from being a student of Chiang Mai University.

Congratulations, son.

One, Two, Three, Cheese!

Who is the happiest person, graduate or parents?

Thank you for this bouquet of flowers.

The last day of being a university student is the graduation day. It is regularly held at the end of January each year. This year was the 37th, which means all graduates are the 37th alumni of Chiang Mai University and it was held on January 28, 2003.

I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in March last year and I started working several months ago with the Chiangmai Mail. Since all the graduates left the university’s life almost a year ago, some of us have moved away from Chiang Mai to continue a master’s degree or to seek employment in other provinces, but I am still living in Chiang Mai with a new pace of living.

The graduation day is one opportunity for us to see and meet old friends. I had been waiting for that day while preparing myself for the ceremony at which HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn would graciously confer the degrees to the graduates this year.

On graduation day, I was very happy and ready to step into what was to be a big day for me. I woke up early, dressed in the academic gown and went to have photographs taken with friends. Like the previous years, the campus arranged for beautiful flowers and the road from the university gateway was a sea of colorful blooms and crowds of people could be found everywhere.

Taking pictures among beautiful flower garden.

Where is the toilet?

Strolling through the beautiful flower garden.

The Department of Mass Communication, where I studied, has a tradition among its students that first year students get together at the flagpole in the front of university’s gateway to give traditional cheers as a way to congratulate the graduates. Then the graduates will place a donation into a black box as tradition expects. My department is not the only one having the traditional cheer for the graduates, but I have no idea as to whether they have to give a donation as I did, or not. But it is a way for the younger class students to show spirit and congratulations to the elders.

Relatives and friends show up to take pictures with the beautiful flowers as the background. The flower gardens in front of the campus become crowded with thousands of people, as well as the road heading up to the campus and the convention hall, where the ceremony takes place.

All the graduates have as many pictures taken as they can, because you don’t know when you will meet again. After this big day, everyone has to step back into his or her own direction. Only pictures and memories will remain.