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Rain retreat

พรรษา or "PHANSA" is the Buddhist rainy season. The rain retreat or Buddhist Lent is marked by two major religious events : one for the entering of the rainy season called "WAN KHAO PHANSA" (วันเข้าพรรษา) and for the exit of the rainy season called "WAN OK PHANSA" (วันออกพรรษา).

rainy season
During the rainy season, i.e. three months, approximately July, august, September (depending on lunar months), monks aren't allowed to sleep outside their temple and cannot defrock. This tradition is coming from old times when Buddha stayed in temples during rainy season to avoid killing insects or growing seeds. It is a period for study, meditation and to teach new monks. They are allowed to go out during the day but they must sleep in the same temple every night during three months.
Ordination

Still many Thai men become monks before the rain retreat as it offers a three months time to study the Dharma (ธรรม - Buddha teachings).

A few days before "WAN KHAO PHANSA", Thai people buy big candles. These candles should by pair. One for the buyer and one to get a mate for next life. When buying the wax candles, the candle is decorated with dragon, flowers and so on...
rainy season
Donations

One day before the beginning of the Buddhist lent, there is Asalabucha day (วันอาสาฬหบูชา). This day commemorates the first sermon of Buddha to his five first disciples. One of them asked for being a monk. So this day is sacred because it deals with Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

rainy season
Thai people gather in the temple in order to listen to the Dharma. Temples are really crowded for "WAN KHAO PHANSA".
Buddhist sermon
During the Buddhist sermon, some laymen and laywomen prepare the trays dedicated to the monks.
rainy season
Giving alms
rainy season
When the Buddhist sermon is finished, Thai people are queuing to fill monks bowl with food.
Giving alms
Thai people are queuing in order to give their donations to the abbot. They offer wax candles but also monk robe, food, lotus flowers, buckets full of useful goods and so on... A Thai greeting towards the monk ( "WAI" - ไหว้ ) shall be done before and after the donation.
rainy season
Candle donation

The Candle Wax procession ("PHITI HAE PRASAT PEUNG" - พิธีแห่ปราสาทผึ้ง) in Ubon Ratchatani is the most famous Candle Wax procession in Thailand. There is a night and day parad of huge wax candles. Those wax candles are big enough to last three months during a rain retreat season.

rainy season
Soon, the abbot is submerged with donations. As usual, some laymen gather the donations in order that new donators can offer their wax candle.
Candle donation
After receiving the donations, the abbot blesses the crowd by sprinkling lustral water (NAM MON - น้ำมนต์) on people. Lustral water is water that has been infused with magical powers or has received a blessing from monks. Thais believe that those who drink lustral water or have it sprinkled on their head, the most sacred part of the body, will be blessed.
rainy season
Benediction

A thin bamboo stripes (ตอก) is used in Buddhist temples when abbots dip a bunch of it in holy water and sprinkle it on the faithful congregation. it carry the holy water well so giving the blessing of the dharma far and wide.

rainy season
เวียนเทียน or "VIEN TIEN" happens in the evening. During this ceremony, people turn around the temple three times with a candle in the hand.
Evening ceremony


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