Happy Wesak 2052 – Buddha’s birth

9 May
Burning my little lotus candle for Buddha

Burning my little lotus candle for Buddha

Yep – Happy New Year again! (for the 4th time this year, I know) This time the New Year took my by surprise. I was walking around town and on the spur of the moment, I thought to do something cultural, instead of only lying at the beach, reading, blogging and gazing at the beautiful sunset every night.

So I went to visit the lying Buddha in the Thai temple, and the Burmese Buddhist temple (in the same street). There were many many people around, and I only realized what was going on when I saw a little paper on the wall explaining that today is Wesak – Buddhist religious new year 2052. It was 2052 years ago that Buddha was born. So I decided to join in and get my blessing from the monks and light a flower candle for Buddha.

Getting my blessing

A new buddhist at the Burmese temple?

A new buddhist at the Burmese temple?

People (of the Chinese, Thai and Burmese communities) went to the temple to pay their respect to Buddha and get blessed by the monks: a wet and costly affair. People would kneel in front of one of the many monks that were sitting in huge comfy couches in the prayer hall. The monk would dip his flower into a fishbowl of water, and spray the devotees while reciting some prayers and wishing well.

I also decided to give it a go, took my shoes off when entering (Thai Buddhists take their shoes off, Chinese don’t) and kneeled on the mat in front of a surprised monk. I smiled pointing consecutively at his flower, the fishbowl and my head. He laughed, looked at his colleague monk, shrug his shoulders and started his tantric prayer while giving me a sacred shower. At the end of it I got a yellow string bracelet (because of being a Thai temple, white bracelet in Laos, red in Cambodia – sorry if I get my colours wrong).

Throw your coins for good luck...

Throw your coins for good luck...

I also lit a flower candle for Buddha. There was an atmosphere of ‘theme park’ in the temple grounds: people were buying candles, sweets, rice, etc to offer to Buddha or the monks. You could try your luck at throwing coins into rotating bowls over a fish pond – every bowl bringing you success in different fields e.g. travels, career, love, harmony, etc. Or if you want to be more sure of your success, you can also put your money in the bowls near the table with Buddha statues, or in the donation boxes in front of the Buddhas representing your Chinese Zodiac (e.g. I’m a rat – and You? See page with birth dates). Others were waiting in line to poor water over a Buddha statue, and collect a bag of the blessed water afterwards…

Beautiful Bangkok Lane - so cute

Beautiful Bangkok Lane - so cute

Bangkok lane next door

The area just next to the Thai and Burmese Buddhist temple was another one of the quaint areas in town. Bangkok lane is a street lined with old houses dating back from the British times, with lovely balconies and terraces. I’m sure it is a very fancy and gay area nowadays, because there were many beauty salons & hairdressers, some art galleries (featuring an exhibition on male beauty) and expensive designer cars around.

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