Monday, 6 August 2007

Awk Pansa

The month of October in Thailand is marked by festivals of faith held to celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent, and known as Awk Pansa and Tawd Gathin.

These ceremonies follow the three-month rainy season and are rooted in the country's agricultural tradition, based on the lunar calendar that marks the passing of the seasons and dictates the planting and harvesting of crops; mainly rice.

Awk Pansa means "leaving the period of rain" and normally falls on around early October till early November and this year it is 7th October. The occasion is to mark the end of Lord Buddha's retreat to heaven in the wet season, during which he preached to his mother. Upon his return to Earth, his followers presented Lord Buddha and his disciples with gifts of food. This event is celebrated today by the presentation of food and other gifts to the nation's monks as they emerge from their rainy season retreat in temples across the land. The monks prepare for this occasion by shaving their heads and eyebrows, and donning fresh robes before leaving their temples and travelling throughout the countryside. Awk Pansa falls on the night of the full moon when Thai people will visit their local temple to pray and to pay respects to the sacred relics and structures (such as chedis) within the temple grounds. Candles will be lit and placed outside homes and in temple compounds across the country. This is to mark the end of the rains that have brought sustenance to the land.

This occasion comes on the eve of a thirty-day period of merit-making for the people of Thailand.

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