Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Tak Bat Dok Mai Festival-The only festival of its kind in the world

Tak Bat Dok Mai is a Buddhist ceremony in which people offer flowers to the monks as a way of making merit, this ceremony is unique to Saraburi province. In addition to the offerings of cooked rice, food, incense, candles and other conventional sacred items, Tak Bat Dok Mai Ritual includes offerings of “Dok Khao Phansa” flowers that only come into bloom during the Buddhist Lent (Usually in July).

This important festival at Wat Phra Phutthabath has been a ritual of the Saraburi people and Buddhists for a long time. Since 2001 the period of the festival was extended from one to three days with two rounds of Making Merit, one each in the morning and afternoon, due to the increase in the number of participants from around the world.The morning of the first day is for religious rituals and to pay homage to the people of many generations. A re-enactment of the procession of King Songtham celebrates the discovery of lord Buddha's Footprint at Wat Phraphutthabat. The footprint was unearthed during the reign of King Songtham and the ceremony itself uses “Khao Phansa” flower (Globba winiti) to celebrate the historic find.The beautiful flower, candle procession and cultural performance parade through the town from Phra Phutthabat municipality office to Wat Phra Phuttabat. The opening ceremony begins once the parade reaches the temple and is followed by Tak Bat Dok Mai, the parade where monks receive the offerings.
The flowers offered to the monks must be Dok Khao Phansa, the yellow flowers with smaller violet petals, which are commonly found in Saraburi province. After the monks accept offerings from merit makers, they will take the flowers to pay homage to “Lord Buddha’s Footprint” and "Jedi Chulamanee" (Jedi of Buddha’s relics). Upon descending the steps, Buddhists will wash their feet with clean water, it's believed that the water is a way of cleansing their sins. In the evening there is entertainment, which varies from year to year.

Saraburi's unique festival “Tak Bat Dok Mai” is one of the most important cultural heritages of the region.Tourists who visit Saraburi during the festival will not only witness Buddhist rituals such as making merit, but will also enjoy entertainment that includes traditional folk games, cultural performances and contests.

Many Buddhists from around the world visit Wat Phra Phutthabat to have their “Teab” stamped, which they believe is a passport to heaven.

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