• Short Summary

    Thousands of people took part in Thailand's annual Phra Pathom Chedi Festival this week (6 November).

  • Description

    Thousands of people took part in Thailand's annual Phra Pathom Chedi Festival this week (6 November).

    SYNOPSIS: It was held at the country's oldest and largest pagoda 40 miles (65 kilometres) from the capital, Bangkok. The festival runs for several days and is always held after the rice harvest at the start of the dry season. As well as being a religious observation it's a time for people in the area, particularly the farmers, to relax and enjoy themselves after weeks of hectic harvesting. The courtyard of the pagoda becomes a marketplace and funfair. The city's the hub of one of the richest areas of Thailand as well as being a major religious centre. The original pagoda was built more than a thousand years ago but rebuilt a century ago.

    For the temple monks it's also a busy time as they bless the thousands of people who come to pay them homage.

    Maintenance of the pagoda is continuous and expensive and during the festival everyone is expected to make a donation towards its upkeep. It's in the basement of the pagoda that the tomb of the Indian monk, Praticthatat Praphutthachau, who brought Buddhism to Thailand a thousand years ago, lies intact.

    And of course of the focal point of their religion -- the Buddha itself. It's the custom to buy golden foils which are then pasted onto the statues. Many other religious objects can be bought and as Roman Catholics buy candles to place in their churches in memory of dead relatives, Buddhists can purchase bells which are sent to the top of the pagoda by a cable.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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