Chiang Mai FeMail  by Elena Edwards
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

“Many Lamps – One Light” celebrates 12 Wonderful Months

Wise words…

A Yee Peng message from Mayor Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai

A Charity Calendar with a difference…

OPINION

 

“Many Lamps – One Light” celebrates 12 Wonderful Months

Michael Dean
“Many Lamps – One Light” inspirational programmes, an initiative of the Baha’i community of Chiang Mai, celebrated its 1 year milestone when it met at Hillside 4 Plaza and Condotel on Huay Kaew Road last week.
More than at any other time, people are seeking answers and solutions to personal problems and to some of the many lamentable and bewildering conditions that are besetting society as a whole. “Many Lamps – One Light” has been opening doorways to harmony and peace as it points us to some of the solutions and uplifts the cause of unity amongst the peoples of the world.
All those attending the programmes, whether regularly or occasionally, have felt they were contributing something tangible and worthwhile to the world around them as well as to their own spiritual growth.
The programmes have served a unique purpose in bringing together people in harmonious, inspiring and enlightening consideration of the essential oneness of humanity found in the writings of the major world faiths, without the constraints of religious dogma and conformity. This has allowed persons of different religious persuasion, and those of none, to enjoy the meetings where no personal distinctions are identified or made.
The meetings, which are totally free of charges or donations, start promptly at 2.30 p.m. and last about half an hour before refreshments and socialising. They then continue for a further open discussion, in which everyone usually contributes their own experiences and thoughts on the day’s topic. Those who remember the first of the bimonthly programmes, look back with deep satisfaction on an important and wonderful year of breaking down barriers and raising spiritual awareness and growth.
For further information contact Mike on 087-305-4006.

 

Wise words…

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person. When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend – and they are!
They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.


A Yee Peng message from Mayor Dr Duentemduang na Chiengmai

This year’s Loy Krathong, according to the meteorological department, is expected to be much colder than in previous years – by the time you read this, you will know whether they were right or not! Making comparisons of various years’ weather reminds one of the atmosphere of the festival in olden times. Yee Ping is a traditional festival, based on the heritage of ancient times, which centres round the river and its life-giving waters, and the temples in which people give annual thanks, confess their mistakes and wrongdoings, pay respect to their gods and the Buddha, and pray for good fortune and happiness in the year to come. The beliefs and faith of the Lanna peoples are encapsulated in the celebrations, as is paying respect to the “mother river.”
The most important factor in the celebrations is the bringing together of all peoples, in the gathering to make merit at the many temples. Homes and gateways are beautifully decorated, candles are lit, and the lovely traditional lanterns in all their forms are seen everywhere, glowing with promises and best wishes for the following year.
Traditional parades wind around the old city and its walls, people wear the historic old Lanna costumes, hold lighted candles signifying to their ancestors that all is well, and float Krathongs on the river, all with the irresistible Thai smile, famous to tourists worldwide and to those who are fortunate enough to live in Chiang Mai. Everyone who comes to the city to celebrate Loy Krathong is welcomed equally and enthusiastically, in the centuries- old northern Thai language.
In spite of the beauty, traditional decorations, parades and festivities, Yee Peng Chiang Mai does not need lights, sounds or modern technology to bring the ancient festival to life. The heart and soul of the celebrations is the bringing together of the city’s people, in simplicity, to celebrate their cultural heritage in the traditional manner, along with an awareness of the need to protect the river, the environment and the world in which we all live.


A Charity Calendar with a difference…

Those of us who come from the UK and still (out of nostalgia for a former lifestyle or a morbid desire to justify our decision to leave) occasionally visit UK websites, may have recently notice that a certain London opera house is emulating the famous Womens’ Institute Charity Calendar. In the unlikely event that UK readers don’t remember the calendar, it featured members of a local rural WI chapter in all their unclothed glory, and led to the making of that gorgeous film, Calendar Girls, starring the incomparable Helen Mirren!
Said opera house has persuaded ballet dancers, ballet shoe mistresses, orchestra members (with their harp…), a stage manager, a costumier and others to pose in the buff, and all for charity. The no-doubt considerable proceeds from the sale of the calendars at 10 each will go to MacMillan Cancer Support. Two versions are being produced, one featuring 12 females, the other 12 males. It might be noted that no members of the Opera Chorus have been mentioned as volunteers – having, for some while in my former life, been a member of that august group, I can quite understand why – believe me!
Which leads me to the point of all this – should we be trying this in Chiang Mai, with its hundreds of deserving charities? Just imagine – 12 expat ladies and 12 expat gentlemen, carefully chosen from each of the fragmented social groups that make up the farang presence in this town…the mind truly boggles! A female representative from the Rooftop Charity’s committee, perhaps, tastefully draped in a Thai silk bedspread – a male tenor of the same ethnic origin as the soon-to-be President of the United States, bashfully peeping from behind a Lanna lantern, or even the well-known Chiang Mai Mail photographer, with his camera in an apposite position? And, how about pleading for the participation of several of the admittedly lovely female GM’s of the various 5-star hotels dotted about town? That should increase bookings… Or even the owner of a famous Chiang Mai bar and restaurant just off the moat – possibly wearing his barbecue apron and not a lot else? Just joking, folks – or am I?


OPINION

There’s only one subject to write about this week – and I’m not even from the USA! The unthinkable, the unimaginable and the “devoutly to be wished” has actually happened – Barack Obama is the President-elect of the United States of America!
How very much this result was wanted and needed, and not just in the USA, became obvious the following day, with scenes of celebration and joy worldwide being beamed into Chiang Mai living rooms from CNN and the BBC. Even the Russian people seemed to be happy about it, although their leader wasn’t exactly waxing lyrical on the subject. How many of us realised that feelings worldwide were that strong? Mass media are referring, as did the man himself on the campaign trail, to a “new start” – already Obama is in the process of appointing highly-respected US financial wizards to get to grips with the economic crisis, and even the Iranian president is thawing slightly, hinting that an approach would not be rejected out of hand. During the 2-year run-up to the election, Obama never faltered in his resolve to bring the troops home from Iraq – having voted against sending them in the first place! All this and more – it would seem that this presidency will, for the first time in many younger people’s lives, make real efforts to address the ills which have crept up on the world during the past decade or so – ills caused by a lack of human concern and by the pure greed of the few overcoming ethics and responsibilities.

Barack Obama

This election, as mentioned again and again in the media, is also of huge historical significance – the first time a black citizen has even run as the presidential delegate, let alone been elected. Maybe, for this reason alone, we can be encouraged to believe that, unlike previous incumbents, Obama will not forget or dilute his pre-election promises, but will, with an increased Democratic majority, be able to push through real and lasting change without too much opposition. He seems to have an amazing talent for personal interaction in the genuine sense with people from all walks of life – this may well be his greatest asset in the difficult four years to come. “Believe in me – we can sort this out together,” is an almost irresistible message, especially now, when things are so desperate.
But, you may ask, how will all this help us here in Chiang Mai – apart from possibly and eventually re-establishing investments and savings? Many of us may well have left our home countries because they just didn’t seem like “home” any more. Many negative changes that we felt we had no control over, either by democratic or other means, may have alienated us enough to motivate us to come thousands of miles to a different culture and, by doing so, leaving our “roots” behind – a somewhat disturbing feeling. We watched the reputations of our home countries diminish across the world, and maybe felt that we ourselves were included in the general derision, whilst having no say in the top-level decisions which had caused it. Quite simply, the Obama victory seems to have had, even now, a reunifying effect, not just in the USA, but worldwide, amongst us ordinary people who want to be listened to by our leaders, and to be considered and respected for our contributions to what is, after all, our world. If this reunification continues, even spreads, we will all benefit, even here in Asia. If a “new dawn” with different aspirations does indeed arise, at the very least all the diverse branches of the expat community in this city will perhaps be able to relax a little and view the expected developments with anticipation rather than dread.