Thursday, 13 December 2007

Phra Phutthasothon-Wat Sothon

Wat Sothornwararamworaviharn or Wat Hong is the oldest temple in Chachoengsao Province.
The temple is located within the town Chachoengsao on the banks of the Bang Pakong River'

Built in late Ayutthaya Period, with its original name of Wat Hong, it is the location of Phra Phutthasothon or Luang Pho Sothon, the important Buddha image in the attitude of meditation with a width of 1.65 meters and a height of 1.48 meters high.

According to the legend, this Buddha image had been floated along the river, before being placed here at this temple. The original image was a beautiful Buddha image, but later on cement was placed on the image to prevent from burglary. Worshippers from all walks of life come to pay respect to this most reputed image by pasting gold leaves on the image.

Many Thais pay respect to Phra Phutthasothon which is one of the moset revered in the country. There is a legend that Phra Phutthasothon is one of the three brothers that fled from the ravages of war during the Ayutthaya period. They just got up one day and jumped into the river. One of them ended up at Samut Songkram. Another ended up in Samut Prakan. The third arrived in Chachoengsao. In each case, the Buddha images only came to shore when the local villagers paid proper respect. Efforts to retrieve it were unsuccessful until a villager had a small shrine erected on the site and performed a ceremony welcoming the image to the community.

There are a total of 3 celebration in a year -

  • Around April to celebrate the occasion of lifting Luang Pho Sothorn from the river. Open theatres are provided all through these three days and three nights.

  • Around November to commemorate the occasion of subsiding of smallpox in 1890 as it was believed that due to the help of Luang Pho Sothon. Performed on the eve is the chanting of sermons whereby magical power is instilled in Luang Pho votive tablets. A procession of a Luang Pho Sothon reproduction is held both on land and the water. Red Cross Festival is held at the same time at Somdet Phra Srinagarindra Park.

  • Around February (Chinese New Year Festival). This lasts 5 days 5 nights. A large crowd of people from every direction come to the temple to pay respect to Luang Pho.

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