Thursday, June 20, 2013

WAT PATHUMWANARAM AT NEW YEAR - BANGKOK

Halfway into the year, I have decided to go back to Bangkok for year end again. Not for the grandiouse fireworks or parties or, god forbid, the year-end sales, but for the amazing New Year Eve prayers and meditations at Wat Pathumwanaram.


As a Buddhist I tried to get away from the x-mas craze over here in Europe. Bangkok seemed like a fit place to spend the "holidays" my way, which is without anything special on christmas. I am also not a big fan of New Year parties, so just spending time with good friends over a drink and dinner was fine with me. 


But I happend to pass by Wat Pathumwanaram a day before New Year...and we all now that nothing just happens, but it is all meant to be that way. Both Ubosot and Vihara were open and lit up and I entered it, paid my respect to the amazing Buddha images in there and got to talk with the monks. They were setting up and preparing the temple grounds for New Years Eve, which I had no idea would even happen. In our "broken Thai & broken English" conversation I learned the time activities at the temple would happen the following night, so I changed all my plans with friends and prepared myself to attend whatever happened at this temple. 


I came waaaay to early, which in itself was a good thing, because traffic was on the edge of braking down and thousands of people streemed onto the overpaths between the shopping malls on their way to the big party around Central World. 


Buddhist laypeople also streamed into Wat Pathumwanaram for prayers, merit making activities and for listening to the live talks in front of TV cameras. Free food and drinks were offered and the places in front of the Ubosot and Vihara started to fill up with people. After a high level member of society started to lit the candles, prayers and chanting started and filled the air between the huge shopping malls, busy Ploenchit Road and the noisy sky train tracks. But being in the temple here and listening to the chanting you could almost forget that you are in a 9 million strong city with crazy party goers just 100 meters away from you. 


I stayed for hours and participated in the prayers, left much much later than anticipated and truely felt that I had spent a wonderful way of ending one year and preparing for the next one to come. It was such an amazing experience that I decided to do it again for the following New Year.