Monday, March 26, 2012

Alms Giving to 30,000 Monks in Chinatown Bangkok 24th March 2012 For 2,600th Anniversary Of Buddha’s Enlightenment.

Early on the morning of Saturday 24th March 2012, there will be a mass Alms Giving Ceremony in Chinatown - Bangkok. An estimated 30,000 monks and a greater number of laypeople are expected took part of the event. Many roads like Yaorawat and Charoen Krueng were closed for the event. This is my last chance for a while to photograph such a big event. They don’t happen that often.For Buddhist people, this year is very important as it is the 2,600th anniversary of Buddha’s Enlightenment. Today’s event was in commemoration of Visakha Bucha Day which takes place on 17th May this year. Visakha Bucha Day is one of the most important days in the Buddhist calendar. It takes place every year on the full moon of the sixth lunar month. Three important events happened on this day. These were the birth, enlightenment and the death of the Lord Buddha. Buddhists make merit on this day by going to the temple to offer food to monks and to listen to sermons.
The road of Chinatown was completely covered in white sheets. In addition, there were 8 red lanes which marked the path to be taken by the 30,000 monks. Many of the lay people came early in the morning, even before the sun came up, in order to get a good spot. I was there at 6:00 am and there was already thousands of people there.The picture above was taken from the roof of the Chinatown Hotel and is looking towards the Chinatown intersection. I have never seen so many monks in one place before.Estimated crowd of 100,000 lay people worn white clothing took part of this event. Many of them had already been there for several hours. The Broadcast of television program were recorded and transmit the Alms Giving event to public TV. The photo taken of me for this great Alms Giving Ceremony.
The event started with prayers and chanting.Most people brought dried food along as well as rice, personal necessities such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste. Much of this dried food will be sent to the monks in the deep south who are unable to leave their temples. In fact, monks have been targeted and shot dead in the past. The event today was organized to give them both moral support as well as dried food.After chanting and a sermon, the monks then started to file down the paths between an estimated crowd of 100,000 lay people.
The monks first filed down the rows and started to received the alms all at the same time. However, even though there was four rows of monks along the entire 800 meter route, there were still more who were just getting up from their seats. It was an incredible sight and a wonderful experience.
At the ended, business back as usual.
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