Supreme Patriach of Thai Sangha bestows blessings

The Nation, October 3, 2005

Bangkok, Thailand -- More than 1,000 Buddhists gathered at Wat Bowonnivet Vihara yesterday to pay respects to their beloved spiritual leader the Supreme Patriarch, who was described by his doctor as being in good health for a 92-year-old.

His Majesty the King will send Privy Councillor Thanin Kraivixien to bring flowers to His Holiness at Wat Bowonnivet today. Yesterday saw His Holiness grant his second public audience in a little over a year as part of the three-day ceremony to mark his birthday. The celebration ends today, when he turns 92.

The Supreme Patriarch arrived at the temple from Chulalongkorn Hospital at 6.39am and remained there throughout the afternoon to grant an audience to various groups of people.

His personal doctor, who is also a monk, Phra Dr Anil Thammasathiyo, said the Supreme Patriarch showed all the signs of being healthy. ?His Holiness can talk, eat and sleep normally, as well as recognise individuals and can bestow blessings,? he said.

His Holiness was admitted to Chulalongkorn Hospital more than a year ago. After his admission, the government set up a patriarchal caretaker team to run his day-to-day affairs, which was seen by his followers as a violation of the Supreme Patriarch?s power.

After getting out of his car His Holiness was moved to a wheelchair and greeted followers who were waiting for him at the main ground of Wat Bowonnivet Vihara. His Holiness blessed the audience for coming to greet him.

The Supreme Patriarch then gave alms to 19 monks, during which his aides assisted him now and then.

His Holiness then granted an audience to groups of people inside the auditorium of Mahamakut Buddhist University from 7am to 8am before moving to his living quarters to have breakfast and watch an animated film entitled ?The Legend of the Great Buddha?.

The 60-minute film is based on a book by Supreme Patriarch and was made by the Dharma Play Foundation after His Holiness saw a Singaporean version at his birthday celebration two years ago and suggest that Thai version be made, said Phrakru Sangkha Sitthikorn, chief adviser of the foundation.

Phrakru Sitthikorn said His Holiness was the first person to view the animation, which would be distributed to schools and released on DVD for sale to raise funds to produce a sequel.

At 4.30pm, His Holiness chaired a prayer session in the chapel of the temple and returned to the university auditorium at 5.30pm to grant another audience to the people.

As part of the ceremony today, 20 monks will chant a prayer to bless the Supreme Patriarch, and His Holiness will host a lunch for 493 monks.