Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Temple consecration

An inauguration ceremony called "FANG LUUK NIMIT" (ฝังลูกนิมิต) is done to consecrate a temple. Some sacred marker spheres "LUUK NIMIT" (ลูกนิมิต) need to be buried in the temple compound.
The "SIMA" around the temple compound are called big boundary stones ("SIMA JAI" - สีมาใหญ่). The "SIMA" around the "UBOSOT" are called small boundary stones ("SIMA LEK" - สีมาเล็ก).
The main Buddhist religious ceremonies (daily prayers, ordination of new monks) are held in the main shrine hall called "UBOSOT" (อุโบสถ). The consecration of an "UBOSOT" involves burying nine boundary stones. Then there is a custom of placing boundary stones ("SIMA" - สีมา) over the spheres.
Before the inauguration ceremony, a feast happens in the temple and lasts one week. Many white threads adorn the "UBOSOT".
When a Buddhist ceremony happens in a Thai temple all the monks must be in the area limited by the boundary stones. That's why for big temples with many monks, the boundary stones are around the "UBOSOT" (visitor monks don't have to participate to ceremonies) and for smaller temples the bounding stones are around the temple compound.
Some Thai ladies clean and prepare the compound around the "UBOSOT". The mass ordination will happen there on the first day of the temple consecration.
As the temple consecration is a ceremony for a new opening of the "UBOSOT", the main Buddha statue is covered by a white cloth. It simulates that it is a new Buddha statue also. The white cloth will be removed at the end of the celebrations. All the white threads are starting from the main Buddha image.
A "LUUK NIMIT" (ลูกนิมิต) or sacred marker sphere is waiting to be buried at the inauguration ceremony.
Nine stone spheres demarcate the sacred space around the "UBOSOT": one at the centre, four at the corners and four at the cardinal points.
This billboard display includes the place, date and the program timetable. First day is "BUAT CHEE PHRAM" (บวชชีพราหมณ์), a huge ordination ceremony during one night.
Other days include free "MOLAM" orchestra performances, Thai boxing, outdoor cinema.
Huge billboards are displayed in the area to advertise the forthcoming temple consecration. It includes the place, date and the program timetable.
This billboard display includes the place, date and the program timetable. First day is "BUAT CHEE PHRAM" (บวชชีพราหมณ์), a huge ordination ceremony during one night. Some temples just organize this religious ceremony and no orchestra performances.
A car procession is getting through the town centre to advertise the forthcoming temple consecration through big speakers and music. Some cars carry Buddha statues. People can give donations to support the temple consecration.
With such huge speakers and loud "MOLAM" music, all the city is aware of the forthcoming temple consecration.
In a Thai temple, the "BOT" (โบสถ์) is the finest building where monks are assembled for religious rites such as morning and evening prayers, ordination. It is the most sacred part of the temple.
For the installation of a "CHO FA" on a temple roof, there is a specific Buddhist ceremony. This ceremony is called "YOK CHO FA" (พิธียกช่อฟ้า). On that day, Thai people come to the temple to make money donations. Some families bring a money tree.
Roof of "BOT" (โบสถ์) is often made of red tiles. The number of stack of roofs are always odd ( 3, 5, 7, 9 ). Odd number are supposed to be lucky. "CHO FA" (ช่อฟ้า) is the elongated and elaborately carved apex on the gable of a Buddhist temple. It is believed to represent the mythical Garuda.
People add colorful ribbons around the "CHO FA" and make a Thai greeting ("WAI" - ไหว้). They bless the carved apex by sprinkling lustral water (NAM MON - น้ำมนต์) on it.
Then Thai people gather in the temple around the monks in order to listen to the Dharma.
Once the Buddhist sermon is over and the temple abbot has hit the gong, the "CHO FA" is brought from the ground to the sky thanks to a pulley mechanism.
Once it reaches the roof, the "CHO FA" is fixed to the gable of the temple. The colorful and sacred ribbons are removed and thrown away. Thai people try to get the falling sacred ribbons.
It is still a long way before this Buddhist temple has a complete consecration. Many Buddhist ceremonies will happen.

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