Today in Thailand it is a Buddhist holiday. It is Asanha Bucha Day. Tomorrow is Khao Phansa which is often translated as the start of the three month Buddhist Lent. A better translation would be the Rains Retreat. as it is now the rainy season, monks are not allowed to go out and wander between temples during this time. So, at the start of this retreat, people traditionally go to the temple to present the monks with large candles which are big enough to stay alight for the entire three months.
This evening I went to visit one of my local temples called Wat Chaimongkhol. Hundreds of people were expected for the traditional wien tien – the candlelight procession around the temple three times. I was a bit early so I sat down to talk with some of the monks. The picture above is of one of the novices. He told me that he had been at this temple for more than one year. Most novices only stay a short time when elderly relations die or during holidays. However, boys from poor families might go to temples for free education.
The candlelight procession started finally just after 8 p.m. It was led by about 80 chanting monks. There must have been several hundred local people. Most of them families. The same scene was repeated at many of the other local temples. It was interesting for me to be there early as I got to see the monks preparing everything for the arrival of the lay people. The monks were very friendly chatting with me. In my last two photos, I was aiming to get a blurred effect of people carrying the candles around the temple. Didn’t quite work to my satisfaction as it was too dark and little lighting.