On the first day of the new year around the world, you will find most people getting up late nursing a hangover or tired from being up all night. But, that is not the case here in Thailand where the majority of the people are devout Buddhists. I was up at 6 a.m. this morning, along with over a thousand local people. We all headed to the city center in Paknam, near the city pillar. Here people lined both sides of the road waiting to make merit for the new year by offering food to hundreds of monks.
The ceremony was officially opened by the Governor of Samut Prakan. Then after some chanting and goodwill messages, hundreds of monks came streaming in to receive alms from the local people. They were assisted by temple boys carrying large sacks. Obviously the alms bowls were too small for all the offerings that morning. Within a space of about twenty minutes, it was all over and people started to return to their homes. But that is not the end of their merit making for the day. Many people will be putting on new clothes and then going to make merit at nine sacred temples.