Lighting the Way

Lighting the Way

Pattaya Redemptorist School for the Blind

From the middle of July to the middle of October, a total of three months, Buddhist monks throughout Thailand will perform Buddhist Lent.

It is a time when monks return to their temples for the duration of the rainy season where they spend their time meditating. Devotees make merit by offering alms to monks, including food, soap, incense sticks, new robes and candles.

The candles were essential in past years before temples were wired for electricity. Over the years the candles became bigger and more elaborate, and have now become the center point of the presentation.

In many towns in northern Thailand processions parade along the roads with floats made entirely of candles, many carved into shapes of mythical Thai creatures. Accompanying the candles on the floats are young girls who are al dressed in traditional costumes and chosen for their beauty.

The children from the School for the Blind paraded to the nearest temple, over one kilometer away, and accompanied by the marching band they made sure everyone know where they were going. The float was decorated with orchids, a young student was sat on the float and a large candle was given pride of place in the center.

On arriving at their destination they were met by the Abbot, who welcomed everyone and showed them into the temple. Special prayers were said and the monks, nine in total, received alms from Khun Aurora, the schools’ Principal. The one meter high candle was then presented to the monks where it took center stage of the ceremony.