Normally we think of spectacular sunsets occurring in mountain or south sea island environments but throughout the year here at Lanna Thai Villa we are also blessed with
stunning sunsets - especially during the monsoon season. Below is a collection of local sunsets photographed from within the grounds of Lanna Thai Villa. We are putting them here for your enjoyment.
Friday, September 6, 2013
Situated upcountry, visitors to Lanna Thai Villa are often treated to a variety of temple ( wat in Thai) and non temple related religious activities and ceremonies that are normally not practiced in the busy city centers like Bangkok where life moves at a fast pace and migrants from the countryside are dispersed over a wide area. Our village context, however, provides the setting and expertise necessary to organize and carry off a large variety of Buddhist ceremonies that enrich the spiritual life of the villagers. From consecrating a new Buddha image to feeding itinerant or tudong monks there are frequent opportunities to witness spectacular Lanna or northern Thai cultural traditions. The following descriptions and photographs provide a glimpse into some of the activities that Villa guests have been able to witness this year.
The modernization and development of rural Thailand has seen the near disappearance of the tradition of wandering meditation ascetics. The disappearance of Thailands forests, the former home of ascetic monks who would travel jungle trails and sleep in caves and cremation grounds has led to the occasional sight of ascetic monks plying the shoulders of the nations highways on foot - often bare foot. Such ascetic monks are known as phra tudong. Practicing some of the 13 ascetic practices mentioned in Buddha's discourses tudong monks eat only one meal per day, sleep outdoors in forests or cremation grounds and make do with only a few possessions. Meditation is an important part of their daily ritual. The lives of wandering monks in early twentieth century Thailand are detailed in the very interesting and readable book titled Forest Recollections by Kamala Tiyavanich.
After the annual rains retreat monks will often join a tudong experience and may travel alone or in small or large groups and may cover significant distances over a month or more of walking. Some men will ordinate just for the tudong experience and after their journey leave the monk hood. In January, 2013 we had the opportunity to both witness and participate in the passing and resting of a tudong procession of over 100 monks which had begun its walking in Saraburi Province some 600+ km. distant.
The procession was spotted resting in a field not far from Lanna Thai Villa. We were pleased to be able to bring them water and to alert other villagers of their approach. This resulted in a roadside stand being set up from which water and other donated items could be dispensed. The procession then made its way to our nearby cremation grounds where they established their camp for the night. Each monk carried a simple circular tent, bedroll and other personal items.
|MONKS RESTING IN FIELD|
In the early morning many villagers arrived to both hear short informal talks by senior monks on the tudong and to make donations of food. The tudong procession was also accompanied by a support vehicle which carried some cooking equipment and food. After the morning meal, cleanup and packing continued its march north.
|MONKS WAITING TO RECEIVE FOOD DONATIONS|
|VILLAGERS MAKE MERIT BY DONATING FOOD|
|MONKS RECEIVING MORNING MEAL|
|TUDONG PROCESSION BEGINS ANEW|