During the full moon of this month we celebrate the religious holiday of Asarnha Bucha Day. The following day marks the start of the Rains Retreat which is sometimes referred to as the Buddhist Lent. It lasts for about three months. This year it runs from 8th July to 4th October 2009. Most schools and organizations around Thailand organize a Candle Parade to their local temple. The candle is usually about two meters tall and is meant to stay alight for the full three months of the Rains Retreat. During this period the monks are not allowed to wander or leave their temples. It is a time for study and meditation.
Over the last few days there were quite a few parades through the town as students headed towards their local temple to present the monks with a Lent Candle and other essential items. At the City Hall this morning, Samut Prakan Governor Mr. Kwanchai Wongnitikorn (wearing green) and Samut Prakan City Mayor Mr. Samphan Techacharoenkul (wearing yellow) presided over the opening ceremony for the Candle Procession for the Rains Retreat. This involved various local schools who all started together at the City Hall but then split up along the procession route to go to different temples. For example, Wat Mahawong, Wat Pichai and Wat Klang.
These final two pictures show students from Satree Samut Prakan School taking part in the “wien tien” around the ordination hall at Wat Klang. They were led by a marching band. Inside the ordination hall, they presented the monks with the Lent Candle and other offerings.