Buddhist Lent begins next week
July 21 & 22
This year, the Buddhist holy days of Asarnha Bucha and
Khao Pansaa fall on July 21 and 22. Both are recognized public holidays, and
therefore banks and most businesses will be closed. It is also against the
rules to sell alcoholic beverages during the beginning of Buddhist Lent.
Many activities are planned throughout the city, especially at our temples,
and everyone is invited to take part.
Asarnha Bucha Day (July
The Buddhist Holy Day of Asarnha Bucha falls on the 15th
night (15 kham) of the full moon during the eighth month of the Buddhist
Lunar calendar, this year equating to Thursday, July 21. "Asarnha Bucha
" means paying homage and worshiping on the day identified according to
the Lunar calendar during the eighth month, Ahsala being the name of the
eighth month in the Pali language.
highlight of this year’s Asarnha Bucha and Buddhist Lent commemoration
will be a special candle parade.
Asarnha Bucha Day is worshipped because of three
important events occurring on the day. Called the "Triple Gem"
(the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha), these commemorate the first sermon given by
the Buddha, called the "Dharmachakapavattama Sutta" concerning the
"Four Noble Truths" presented to the Buddha’s first five
disciples. The sermon set in motion the "Wheel of Dharma", which
is the meaning of "Dharmachaka".
The sermon concluded that: 1. All things are a source of
suffering from the constant cycle of birth, disease, old age and death. 2.
Desire or the inability to obtain what one desires is the cause of suffering
resulting from cause and effect. 3. Freedom from suffering can be obtained
after the complete cessation of desire. 4. The last of the Four Noble Truths
is the "Middle Way", or the path between extremes of asceticism
and indulgence leading to the eliminating of desire. The Eight-Fold Path
consists of possessing the correct: Views, Resolve, Speech, Conduct,
Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Meditation (or Concentration).
Secondly, the day is considered to be the birth of
Buddhism, as the Buddha departed the location where he obtained his
enlightenment two months earlier and then, coming to a forest area in the
city of Pharansi, he showed favour to five ascetics who became his
The third of the Triple Gems is the Sangha. On this same
day, the first person listened to the Buddha’s sermon, realising the
truths contained therein and becoming the first Buddhist monk. This created
the Buddhist order "Sangha" and the day is known as "Sangha
Day" as well as Ahsala Bucha Day.
The Thai government established the observance of Asarnha
Bucha Day in 1958. Buddhist temples throughout the Kingdom arrange
ceremonies venerating the important historic events in the past. Devout
Buddhists participate in the ceremonies by presenting offerings to monks,
listening to sermons and performing ritual prayers.
The entire day is revered and certain precepts are
adhered to by the more devout Buddhist, and by those who have the
inclination and opportunity to do so. The Wientian ritual ceremony is
performed in the evening as many go to nearby temples bringing candles,
flowers and joss sticks, completing three trips walking around the temple
area sacred grounds.
The day following the start of Buddhist Lent (Asarnha
Bucha Day) another important Buddhist Holy day begins in Thailand with the
custom called Khao Pansaa. This day falls on the first full moon (1 kham) of
the Buddhist Lunar calendar during the eighth month of every year, which
this year equates to July 22, and ends on the 15th full moon (15 kham) of
the 11th month of the Buddhist calendar, usually in mid-October. During a
leap ear it is identified during the second eighth month.
The term "Khao Pansaa" can also translate to
entering the months of the rainy season when monks return to the temple for
the duration of the rains, usually to the temple where they were ordained.
They stay there for approximately three months. The monks are not supposed
to depart the temple, or stay overnight at any other location during the
months of rain. Although the rainy season is considered to be longer than
three months, lasting up to four or even more, monks are only required to
remain at the temples for three of the four months. During the last period
of the rainy season they can then go elsewhere when the "Katin"
ceremony is performed presenting robes to the temples.
Initially, monks were discouraged from travelling during
the rainy season because of the idea that it was inappropriate to walk about
during the rainy season when many small living creatures were about, which
could be accidentally stepped on. This included the rice crops. Inclement
weather also made it difficult to get out and about. Therefore, it was
established long ago that the monks would remain in temples during the rains
for three months, discussing and studying Buddhist scriptures, following
Buddhist disciplines, meditating and performing ritual ceremonies.
The custom of Khao Pansaa has continued on to this day
with three classes of ceremonies, a Royal ceremony conducted by the King of
Thailand, ritual ceremonies for devout followers of Buddhism throughout the
Kingdom and ceremonies performed by monks in the temples.
The Royal ceremony is similar to the ceremony performed
by the general public, but more elaborate. The King and members of the Royal
Family perform ritual ceremonies to pay homage to Buddhism, and present Khao
Pansaa candles and traditional garments to Buddhist monks. The Royal Family
also donates many other items used in these ceremonies.
Other followers of Buddhism all over Thailand will attend
temples in the morning, bringing food, necessity items, money, the
traditional candles, garments and ceremonial items for the monks, with
flowers and candles in hand.
For those people having devout faith they may refrain
from the recognised eight offences for the duration of the three month rainy
season just as monks do, while others may give up a single vice, with yet
others recognising the 5-8 offences for the day.
The ceremonies performed by monks in temples revolve
around rituals accepting new monks, who take vows for periods up to the
three months, with some staying even longer. Senior monks at each monastery
perform other ceremonies leading followers in worship and prayer.
The two main items presented to monks during Khao Pansaa
are the candles and garments worn by monks, specifically the bathing robe.
The candles were essential in former times and needed for ceremonies,
studying scriptures and performing various other functions. The candle
offering has developed into a custom still followed.
The presentation of garments worn by monks is said to
have originated from methods of bathing in former times, commonly done in
community areas using streams, rivers, ponds and other sources of water,
with monks requiring a bathing robe. The garments worn by monks continued to
develop until the custom included presenting the entire arrangement worn by
Many people take time away from their work on Khao Pansaa
to recognise the importance of the Buddhist Holy Day. Everyone is invited to
participate in the temple ceremonies and to refrain from offensive behaviour
for the day, and to make the same effort thereafter.
Fancy Masquerade Night
Local fashion designer celebrates birthday with fancy party
Chiangmai Mail reporters
Amari Rincome was the venue for local fashion designer
Tananan Willson’s birthday last Saturday. The colorful evening started
with a reception at the Lanna Restaurant, where all of the invited guests
admired each other’s fancy costumes. And what must be included when a
fashion designer and artist stages a birthday party is a fashion show to
display Tananan’s latest creations.
of the evening, Ongkarn ‘JoJo’ Chaiongkarn from Indeed Creation in the
front while Tananan Willson and David Wilson receive a colorful birthday
The guests were later asked to step onto the catwalk to
show off their costume concepts. With so many fancy costumes, the night
called for a competition and after hard searching, the overall winner was
announced as being Decha from Heritage.
The evening progressed with a cheerful karaoke session allowing everyone
to showcase their talents (or lack thereof). Amongst friends everything is
some of the brilliant costumes showing off the artistic skills of the
TAT hosts “From the Gulf of Thailand to Lanna” road show
The Chiang Mai office of the Tourism Authority of
Thailand (TAT) and the Samui Island Tourism Coordination Office took 32
tourism-based business operators to the Rydges Amora Tapae Hotel in Chiang
Mai for a road show called "From the Gulf of Thailand to Lanna" to
highlight and promote inter-regional tourism.
operators show interest in the information on Samui and Pha-ngan.
Attending the road show on July 5 were hotel owners, spa
operators and tour operators from Samui, Pha-ngan and Surat Thani.
Ruangnam Jaikwang, president of the Samui Tourism
Promotion Association said, "Prior to coming to here, Chiang Mai went
on a public relations trip to Samui and Bangkok Airways opened the Chiang
Mai - Samui route flying three flights per week to promote tourism. This
trip is intended to promote Samui and Pha-ngan. This is the first time that
we have promoted tourism in Chiang Mai. Tourists looking for the cultural
aspect would naturally come to Chiang Mai first and then continue the
holiday in Samui, connecting Lanna to the Gulf of Thailand. Samui is a
nature lover’s dream with all the facilities including hotels, resorts and
spas. Special promotions and packages will be arranged for the low
Angkana Pumpaka, assistant director of the Northern Tourism Authority,
District 1 said, "The Tourism Authority aims to promote inter-regional
tourism. In the past we have arranged similar events with Rayong, Khon Kaen,
Udon Thani and the latest Samui and Pha-ngan event is to promote tourism
Beautiful Asia, a Lanna embrace
Lanna dance performance - the future of Chiang Mai’s spa industry?
A music therapy display entitled "Beautiful Asia, a
Lanna Embrace" was recently staged at the Sheraton Hotel, Chiang Mai.
Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, Chiang Mai’s deputy governor,
said at the opening ceremony the activity was to enhance the local spa
industry with local wisdom, and to promote SME spa goods.
Normally, spas provide slow background music to help
customers feel relaxed, but the SMEs have modified local Lanna music into
music therapy. This will also help promote local and traditional musical
Northern SMEs have provided music therapy knowledge since June 30. It
could be a part of a spa ambience or could develop into a kind of therapy in
itself. There were three music therapy, mind movement, trance of Lanna and
power of life performances.
Fon Phi dancing, Lanna ceremony
At Baan Samlang, Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Resort, an
ancient ceremony took place on July 8, called "Fon Phi Mod (phi mod
angels changing into Mon costumes.
Withi Panichpan, former lecturer of Chiang Mai
University, said that Fon Phi was a ceremony involved with Lanna people’s
souls and was thought to be part of Lanna tradition even before Buddhism
came to Thailand. It is held to demonstrate to new generations the
admiration of, and thankfulness to, angels. Many centuries have passed but
the tradition remains alive.
This dancing combines Fon Phi Jaonai, Fon Phi Mod and Fon Phi Meng and
after angels became the servants of the spirits they change from wearing
ordinary clothes into ancient Mon costumes. All dances and ceremonies are
about Lanna lifestyle such as rice harvesting and capturing elephants.
Phi Mod dance.