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วันจันทร์ที่ 28 กันยายน พ.ศ. 2552

Every year, at Hat Krai Village of the northernmost province of Chiang Rai between April and May, Thai and Laotian fishermen will be very busy casting their 250-metre long nylon net to catch the Gian Catfish in the Mekong River
The Giant Catfish is known in Thai as “Pla Buk”. This giant of freshwater and the King of Mekong River can grow up to 300 kilogrammes and 3 metre after 15 years. During this period of the year as it is the mating season the fish will migrate up the river to spawn. Unfortunately, on the way they become the victims of the deathtrap laid by the fishermen of the two countries.
In fact, before catching the fish, the Brahmin rituals must be held in order to please the Father-spirit of Pla Buk. It is believed ceremony. After performing the rituals, Thai and Laotian fishermen will build temporary bamboo shelter on their respective islands. After each crew has offered a chicken and local-made liquor to the guardian spirit of their boat, they then burn a special herb to drive away the evil ghosts from the net. Not the hunting begins.
The fishing rotation is decided by a draw. Everybody is waiting for his turn enthusiastically and immediately after a Thai team has gone, a Laotian boat is ready to push off.
It is said that the problem in its flesh is good for nourishing the brain much more than any other animal protein and it is also believed that whoever tastes the fish will have a long life and become clever. So its meat has become favourite and expensive dish served in leading restaurants in nearby province and also in Bangkok. Each season about 25-30 giant catfishes will be caught by fishermen of the two countries.
The fishing season also attracts a lot of attention from both local and foreign tourists who are enthusiastic to see the freshwater monster. Unless the fish faces extinction, the fishing season will be carried on from generation to generation of both countries.

วันอาทิตย์ที่ 27 กันยายน พ.ศ. 2552

The royal Ploudhing Ceremony

The annual Ploughing Ceremony usually takes place in May every year at Sanam Luang near the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The ceremony has been performed since ancient times and designed to give an auspicious beginning to the new planting season.
In fact, the Ploughing Ceremony is of Brahman origin and it was practised even before the birth of Lord Buddha who, then a Prince, used to take part in the ceremony. The auspicious day and time are to set by the Royal Brahman astrologers. Nowadays, although Their Majesties are present at the ceremony, the King no longer takes the leading role, His Majesty the King appoints the Ploughing Lord as his representative to carry out the rites. During this colourful ceremony, the amount of rainfall to be expected in the coming season is forecast. The Ploughing Lord is offered a choice of three lengths of cloth, all looking identical, if his choice is the longest one there will be little rain during the coming year; if it is the shortest one, rain will be plentiful while the one of medium length indicates average rain.
After donning the piece of cloth, called “Panung”, the Ploughing Lord then ploughs furrows in Sanam Luang with a sacred plough of red and gold drawn by sacred white bulls and followed by four consecrated ladies who carry gold and silver baskets filled with rice seed. Walking alongside the plough are Brahmans who are chanting and blowing conch shells.
When the ploughing is finished the bulls are presented with seven different foods and drink, i.e. rice seed, beans, maize, hays, sesame seed, water and alcoholic liquor. Whatever the bulls choose to eat or drink, it is forecast that this will be plentiful during the year.
After the ceremony has ended, the crowds scramble for the seeds sown by the Ploughing Lord as the seeds are regarded as things that twill bring the owners wealth and good luck. The farmers will mix the seeds with their own rice to ensure a good crop in the coming year.

Magha Puja Day

Magha Puja Day is one of the most important Buddhist celebrations which falls on the full moon day of the third lunar month (about the last week of February or early March) This day marks the great four events that took place during Lord Buddha’s lifetime, namely ;
1. 1250 Buddhist monks from different place came to pay homage to Lord Buddha at Veluwan Vihara in Rajgaha, the capital of Magaha State, each on his own initiative and without prior notification or appointment.
2. All of them were the enlightened monks (or Arahantas)
3. All of them had been individually ordained by Lord Buddha himself (Ehi Bhikkhu), and
4. They assembled on the full moon day of the third lunar month.
On the evening of that day, Lord Buddha gave the assembly a discourse “Ovadha Patimokha” laying down the principles of His Teachings summarised into three acts, i.e. to do good, to abstain from bad action and to purify the mind.
It was unclear as to when the Magha Puja Ceremony took place. However, in a guide book of ceremonies for the twelve months written by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), it is said that, “….In the past, the Magha Puja was never performed, the ceremony has just been practised during the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV)…” Having realized the significance of this day, King Rama IV ordered the royal Magha Puja Ceremony to be performed in the Emerald Buddha Temple in 1851 and to be continued forever. Later the ceremony was widely accepted and performed throughout the kingdom.
The day is declared as a public holiday so that people from all walks of life can go to the temple to make merit and perform other religious activities in the morning and to take part in the candlelit procession or “Wien Tien” in Thai in the evening.
At the same time, at this auspicious time, His Majesty the King will preside over the religious rites to mark the occasion at the Emerald Buddha Temple and will later lead hundreds of people in a candlelit procession held within the temple’s compound. In fact, the candlelit procession can be held at any time suitable to the public’s convenience, either in the morning or in the evening. However, in Bangkok it will usually take place in the evening at about 8.00 pm and the procession will be led by Buddhist monks. In general, most Buddhists are not aware of the significance of this day.
As a result, a number of people taking part in the ceremony may be less than on other days such as Visakha Puja or Asanha Puja Days. Even so Magha Puja Day carries an equal meaning to all Buddhists.

วันเสาร์ที่ 26 กันยายน พ.ศ. 2552

Kite-Flying Festival

In the early Siamese kingdom of Ayutthaya, kite-flying was so popular that it was prohibited to fly kites over the royal palace as they might damage the architectural spires. Meanwhile, kite-flying gained its highest popularity in the reign of King Rama IV when a royal decree allowed citizens to fly kites at Sanam Luang, opposite the Grand Palace.
To preserve the Summer tradition and promote the tourism industry of the country, kite-flying has now received a greater attention from the authorities. Kite enthusiasts from several countries have even been invited to display their teams also took part in the contest. Spectators were able to see Thai kite fighting contests between the traditional Chula and Pakpao kites as well. Above all, they are able to discover hundreds of different kings of kites in a myriad of sizes,colours, shapes and styles flying in the clear Summer sky above the Sanam Luang ground.
Out of the contest, at this time of the year kites, large and small, of every colour, shape and dimension always fill the sky all over the country. They are spinning, floating, soaring, swooping and even crashing to the ground. Grown-ups and children alike enjoy watching the clear sky decorated with extraordinary kites throughout the Summer vacation.

Krathong Festival

One of the most popular festivals in early November is the Loy Krathong Festival. It takes place at a time when the weather is fine as the rainy season is over and there is a high water level all over the country.
“Loy” means “to float” and a “Krathong” is a lotus-shaped vessel made of banana leaves. The Krathong usually contains a candle, three joss-sticks, some flowers and coins.
In fact, the festival is of Brahmin origin in which people offer thanks to the Goddess of the water. Thus, by moonlight, people light the candles and joss-sticks, make a wish and launch their Krathongs on canals, rivers or even small ponds. It is believed that the Krathongs carry away sins and bad luck, and the wishes that have been made for the new year due to start. Indeed, it is the time to be joyful and happy as the sufferings are floated away.
The festival starts in the evening when there is a full moon in the sky. People of all walks of life carry their Krathongs to the nearby rivers. After lighting candles and joss-sticks and making a wish, they gently place the Krathongs on the water and let them drift away till they go out of sight.
A Beauty Queen Contest is an important part of the festival and for this occasion it is called “The Noppamas Queen Contest”. Noppamas is a legendary figure from the Sukhothai period. Old documents refer to her as the chief royal consort of a Sukhothai King named “Lithai”. Noppamas was said to have made the first decorated Krathong to float in the river on the occasion.
In Bangkok, major establishments such as leading hotels and amusement parks organise their Loy Krathong Festival and the Krathong contest as major annual function.
For visitors to Thailand, the Loy Krathong Festival is an occasion not to be missed. The festival is listed in the tourist calendar. Everyone is invited to take part and share the joy and happiness.