Friday, March 7, 2014

Sakon Nakhom (Thailand): Installation of a Buddha statue

The monks at the installation ceremony
The recently concluded 2nd Dharma and Dhamma Conference organised jointly in Bhopal by the Centre for Study of Religions and Society and Sanchi University of Buddhist and Indic Studies prompted me to mount these photographs of installation of a statue of Buddha near Sakon Nakhom in North-east Thailand close to the Thai border with Laos. During our visit to Thailand in 2012 a friend of 30 years, Akkhardej Chaiyabutr, popularly known as Deji, who now addresses me as uncle, was to install a bronze statue of Buddha donated by him to his village off the Great Asian Highway that passes through Sakon Nakhom. While Deji carried the statue in his Toyota Corolla in an overnight drive, his wife and we, that is my wife and I, took a flight from the Bangkok’s old Don Muang Airport next afternoon. Deji was there to receive us at the natty little Sakon Nakhom airport well decorated with beautiful Thai artefacts.   

Next morning we all travelled about 20 kilometres off the Great Asian Highway to Deji’s impressive village for the Installation. Extensively ritualised, it is virtually like installation of an image of Hindu gods and goddesses. Instead of pundits it was monks who invested the statue with holiness and sanctified it to convert it into a living deity. Naturally very important in conducting the rituals, there was a battery of them who were honoured and feted and showered with gifts. They too reciprocated and with Deji and others my wife and I were also recipients of their gifts of cushions symbolic of those used by the Buddha at the time of his Mahaparinirvana. Food being somewhat central to Thai life, enormous platters containing a variety of delectable dishes beautifully arranged were served to the monks

The photos of the event are in the album. All were taken by Bandana Bagchi except the one in which she figures

The statue
Details of the statueAdd caption
The assemblage
Another detail
Seats arranged for monks
Food for monks
Making offerings to monks

Self and Bandana with Deji and his wife
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