Phuket's residents visit temples in commemoration of the Buddhist lent

Thaisnews, July 11, 2006

Phuket, Thailand -- As the seasonal monsoon rains descend over the kingdom, it marks the beginning of the Buddhist "rain retreat" and the Buddhist Lent, or "Phansa", during which all Buddhist monks retreat to the temples.

Strictly observed by Buddhists and designated as public holidays this is also an auspicious time for Buddhist ordinations as it marks a period of spiritual renewal. Celebrating the religious occasion nationwide, people in Phuket from all walks of life also visited temples to perform religious ceremonies.

At Charoen Samanakit temple the Phuket City Mayor Somjai Suwansuppana led her officials and staff to present the traditional candles and necessities to monks for the 3 month period of the Buddhist lent. Items that provide light such as candles, lanterns and lamp oil are deemed to be particularly important offerings as it is believed that they provide monks with illumination physically and spiritually.

Likewise at Wichit Sangkaram temple where around 500 students from Satree Phuket school walked around the chapel for three times with candles, incense sticks and flowers. Meanwhile earlier on Saturday a grand Pansa candle parade procession was organized by the Phuket City Office with 5 organizations participating. They were spectacularly decorated before being presented to various temples on Sunday morning.

Yesterday evening Buddhists visited temples to perform the candle walks around the chapel at temples near their homes. The Buddhist Lent is believed to be a time devoted to study and meditation. Buddhist monks remain within the temple grounds and do not venture out for a period of three months starting from the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month (in July) to the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eleventh lunar month (in October).

In former times, this was done to prevent monks from trampling upon rice paddies when they venture out to receive offerings from the villagers.