Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Asean year begins with a blessing in Thai capital

Asean year begins with a blessing in Thai capital

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The blessing ceremony begins with a colourful cutural parade invloving some 100 participants. Phatarawadee Phataranawik/the nation weekend

Asean year begins with a blessing in Thai capital

WITH Thailand chairing Asean throughout 2019, the Culture Ministry is fostering unity among the bloc’s 10 members by bringing to Bangkok relics and statues of the Buddha from across Asia to be ritually blessed.

“Thailand is for the first time hosting this grand annual New Year blessing ceremony,” said Kittiphan Phansuwan, director of the ministry’s Religious Affairs Department.

“This example of religious cooperation will kick off a series of networking activities among Asean members.”

Artefacts are being transported from Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Japan, Indonesia, India, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, and will be blessed alongside Thai pieces in the ceremony.

“Among other sacred sites, they’re coming from the Thai temple in Bodhagaya, India, Sri Lanka’s Asgiri Maha Viharaya and Malwathu Maha Viharaya, Myanmar’s Taiktaw Monastery and Thailand’s Wat Phra Kaew,” Kittiphan said.

“The event begins on New Year’s Eve with more than 60 monks from Asean countries and hundreds from Thailand conducting prayers at Sanam Luang.”

The blessing ceremony itself began on Saturday afternoon with a colourful cultural parade involving some 100 participants.

Workpoint Entertainment is assembling the troupe that will carry the holy artefacts and models of each country’s landmark temples from the Maha Jesada Bordin Pavilion on Rachadamnoen Klang Avenue to Sanam Luang.

The artefacts will be on view at Sanam Luang until Tuesday and then be moved to the National Museum until January 15.

The ceremony is one of a dozen cultural activities scheduled for Sanam Luang and temples and museums across the country. More than 30,000 temples in Thailand and 500 overseas will host prayers on New Year’s Eve. The ministry will also host New Year prayers at Wat Arun on New Year’s Eve.

The National Museum will separately display nine prominent Buddha statues for blessing from Saturday to January 27, matched by activities at its branches across the kingdom. The museums will be open without admission charge on Saturday through Wednesday.

“More and more people are attending New Year prayers in Thailand,” Kittiphan said. “Last year more than 20 million people – many of them young – participated in events held at 30,000 temples around the kingdom. We hope there will be even more this year.”

Dislike of crowds needn’t bar anyone from joining in. The ministry has a “New Year Prayer” application for mobile phones with which you can pray along with everyone else.

“The idea is to help reduce the number of accidents occurring during the festive season.”

The ministry will provide free transportation on Sunday through Tuesday for devotees wishing to make merit. Shuttle buses will operate each day from 8am to 6.30pm, going to and from Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Wat Ratchaorotsaram, Wat Ratchapradit, Wat Benchamabophit, Wat Bowonniwet Vihara, Wat Ratchabopit, Wat Suthat, Wat Phraramkao and Wat Wachirathamsathit.

Kittiphan said monks and religious officials from across Southeast Asia, gathered in Bangkok, would discuss plans for further cooperative events next year, including for the annual Asean summit.

“We’re beginning with cooperation among the mainly Buddhist countries because of our shared beliefs,” Kittiphan said. “But other Asean members where other religions predominate will be involved in the near feature. The aim is to highlight the diversity of Asean culture at various events throughout next year.”

Thailand will again host the annual international conference on Vishakha Bucha Day. The ministry is also planning a series of seminars and workshops for Asean members.

“We will focus on the young generation by hosting cultural camps where we can share our diversity,” Kittiphan said.

“Although we follow different religions, we can still live in harmony. Every religion teaches its devotees to be good. We hope to use religion as a cultural tool to bring peace to our region.” The Nation (Thailand)/ANN

MOST VIEWED

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Kingdom produces PPE gear

    Medical supplies from Cambodia have been donated to member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to assist in the fight against Covid-19, said an ADB report published on July 9. The report stated that the supplies were donated as a response to global efforts to

  • Kingdom, US vow stronger ties

    At an academic forum on Saturday to celebrate 70 years of Cambodia-US diplomatic ties, Cambodian researchers and officials expressed hope of encouraging US investments and for that country to deepen and improve its bilateral relations. Held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, it reviewed the past 70

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea