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Chakri Day

06 of April 2009

chakri-dayThe anniversary of the founding of the Chakri Dynasty falls on 6 April. Thailand has a national holiday to celebrate, and Bangkok gets especially festive as it also marks the day it was established as the capital in 1782.

On Chakri Day, the king and other members of the royal family preside over a religious ceremony honouring the previous kings. Thai people are generally very patriotic and Chakri Day is a holiday which gives many people the opportunity to pay respects to the various monarchs who played important roles in shaping Thailand.

Although all the kings are considered to have made significant contributions in one form or another, I’ve listed brief details of the most prominent kings in the Chakri Dynasty.

The Dynasty
Present Chakri dynasty of Thailand was founded by Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke or King Rama I, who came to the throne on April 6, 1782. During his reign of 28 years.  He was the monarch who established Bangkok as the capital of Thailand, and this is the most long-lasting creation, which gains popularity as the “City of Angels”. King Rama I passed away on September 7, 1809 at the age of 72.

King Rama I is son, Phra Buddha Loetla Naphalai, or Rama II, then acceded to the throne. It was during his reign chakri daythat a renaissance of Thai arts and culture came about, especially in literature. The King himself was a man gifted with artistic talent. Phra Nang Klao came next. He fortified the country with a strong defense force and commissioned many buildings. It was during his reign that Thai arts reached the highest peak since Ayutthaya period. It is said that the reigns of King Rama II and III constituted a Golden Age of Literature and Arts, similar to King Narai is in Ayutthaya. King Rama III or Phra Nang klao was succeeded by King Mongkut (Rama IV) who was a bold religious leader. He started the commercial contacts with foreign countries and was responsible for the introduction of western science and modernization into Thailand. Then came King.

During his reign of 42 years, many changes and reforms were made in Thailand. Slavery was abolished, modern system of administration was introduced, efficient law courts were established, education was systematically spread, and he financial system was revised.

King Vajiravudh, who succeeded King Chulalongkorn, further consolidated and developed what had been accomplished in the previous 40 years. He contributed much to the national language and literature so much so that he was sometimes called the poet who was a king. The outstanding achievement of his reign is perhaps a number of new treaties concluded between Thailand and other powers as it helped enhancing the prestige of Thailand. The King also introduced the use of tricolor flag to replace the old red flag with the white elephant.

Thailand Chakri Day

King Vajiravudh passed away on November 26, 1925 and was succeeded by his younger brother King Prachadhipok, the seventh king of Chakri Dynasty who reigned as the last absolute monarch. On June 24, 1932 a revolution took place and His Majesty accepted the proposal of a constitutional regime. On March 2, 1934 the King abdicated and later died in exile, leaving the throne to his nephew, King Ananda Mahidol, who after 11 years rule met a sudden death leaving the throne to his younger brother, King Bhumibol Aulyadej, the present monarch. On Chakri Day, His Majesty King Bhumibol accompanied by members of royal family presides over a religious ceremony performed to give merit to the deceased rulers at the Royal Chapel, then pays respects to His Majesty is Predecessors at the Royal Pantheon and lays a wreath at the statue of King Rama I at the Memorial Bridge. On this occasion, the Prime Minister, Ministers, high ranking officers, students, public and private organizations and people from all walks of life take part in a wreath-laying ceremony and make merit for the great kings who dedicated the best part of their lives for the betterment of their subjects.

Chinese New Year In Thailand

26 of January 2009

The Chinese New Year that is celebrated for about fifteen days is one moment in the year when the wholenew-year nation feels united as they can imagine each others enjoyment. The Chinese New Year gets determined by the chinese new year calendar and therefore it is sometimes called the Lunar New Year. In 2009, the Chinese Lunar Year Festival would start from 26 th of January. Chinese twelve-year circle will roll into the year of ox. In Chinese language, ox is pronounced as Niu. Niu, as an animal in general, was playing the role of dragging a plough in field before the invention of modern industrialized farm tools in Chinese history. The image of Niu in Chinese culture is hard-working and down-to-earth so that it is highly respected by Chinese. As every one is aware of its significance, the working people in china can take weeks of holidays so that they can join the company of their near and dear ones and a feast with their family members on the chinese new year eve or Lunar New Years Eve. Although with the changing times and increasing mobility of the people the celebration of Chinese New Year Festival has undergone some changes, everybody still very fervently follow all the customs that their elders have taught them.  Chinese New Year is a major annual festival that is celebrated with grandiose in several parts of Thailand. Even in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Mongolia and Nepal, Chinese New Year is a major public holiday.

Chinese New year In Thailand

History of Chinese New Year in Thailand dates back to several centuries old when the early Chinese immigrants settled in this part of the world. Bangkok’s china town or Yawarat and Chinese community in the Nakhon Sawon province are some of the oldest Chinese settlements in Thailand. As the Sino-Thai trade and merchandise of precious goods such as fine porcelain, silk and Chinese tea flourished; there was an increase in permanent settlements of Chinese of various ethnic origins. However, these communities have continued their age-old traditions, customs, and rich culture that were followed by their ancestors. In Thailand, Chinese New Year celebrations are held over a period of four days. During this period, several features are displayed that remind the rich cultural, historical and artistic legacy of the Chinese. Golden Dragon Processions are a treat to watch.

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The official route of parades and performances extends from Traimit Road, past Wat Traimit temple, with the worlds largest solid gold Buddha image, China Town Gate (the King’s Birthday Celebration Arch; Chalermphrakiat Arch), Yaowarat Road to Ratchawong intersection. Every year, many people in Thailand with Chinese ancestors, celebrate the Chinese New Year with elaborate ceremonies. Some people call New Year’s day ‘The Spring Festival’ because it is the beginning of spring. More prayers are done on New Year’s day, this time for the gods of luck and good fortune. This prayer is usually held in the early morning and you need to look at the ‘Lear Yik Tao’ (the collective book of Chinese culture and tradition) to know the best time to pray. After this prayer, some families perform another prayer for their ancestors.

New Year’s day is the most festive day of all the three days. People go to their relatives’ houses to give andheppiness-fu receive blessings. They exchange oranges and give away ‘Ang Pao’ to the younger children. Chinese believe that doing this will bring them good luck in the New Year.

Moreover, during this time of New Year in Thailand parades are organized, where troupes of dancers participate. People also visit the temples to offer prayers. Moreover, during the Chinese New Year in Thailand, people decorate their houses and buy new clothes for their friends and relatives. People also greet their loved ones with clothes, ornaments and flowers. Some of the special cuisines which are prepared during the Chinese New Year are Chinese cake, steamed duck, pork and chicken preparations as well as a variety of other vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian cuisines.

chaina_new_yearIn many areas the highlight of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. The dragon—which might stretch a hundred feet long—is typically made of silk, paper, and bamboo. Traditionally the dragon is held aloft by young men who dance as they guide the colorful beast through the streets.

According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian or “Year” in Chinese. Nian would come on the first day of New Year to devour livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One time, people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the color red. Hence, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, the Nian never came to the village again. The Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. The Nian became Hongjun Laozus mount.

First day of the new year
The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. Some consider lighting fires and using knives to be bad luck on New Year”s Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the day before.

Second day of the new year
Incense is burned at the graves of ancestors as part of the offering and prayer ritual.
The second day of the Chinese New Year is for married daughters to visit their birth parents. Traditionally, daughters who have been married may not have the opportunity to visit their birth families frequently.
On the second day, the Chinese pray to their ancestors as well as to all the gods. They are extra kind to dogs and feed them well as it is believed that the second day is the birthday of all dogs.
Business people of the Cantonese dialect group will hold a ”Hoi Nin” prayer to start their business on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year. The prayer is done to pray that they will be blessed with good luck and prosperity in their business for the year.

Third and fourth days of the new year
The third and fourth day of the Chinese New Year are generally accepted as inappropriate days to visit relatives and friends due to the following schools of thought. People may subscribe to one or both thoughts.

Fifteenth day of the new year
The fifteenth day of the new year is celebrated as Yuánxi?o jié , otherwise known as Chap Goh Mei in Fujian dialect. Rice dumplings Tangyuan (simplified Chinese: traditional Chinese: pinyin: t?ngyuán), a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup, is eaten this day. Candles are lit outside houses as a way to guide wayward spirits home. This day is celebrated as the Lantern Festival, and families walk the street carrying lighted lanterns.
This day often marks the end of the Chinese New Year festivities.

The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar year, so the date of Chinese New Year changes every year. The010 Chinese calendar follows a 12-year pattern with each year named after an animal. There are various stories which explain this. The simplest is that Buddha (or the Jade Emperor) invited all of the animals to join him for a New Year celebration, but only 12 animals turned up. To reward the animals that did come, Buddha named a year after each of them in the order that they arrived, starting with the Rat, followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (or Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Depending on the year you are born, you are believed to have the various character traits of that year””s animal.

2008 – February 7 – Year of the Rat
2009 – January 26 – Year of the Ox
2010 – February 14 – Year of the Tiger

Loy Krathong Festival

12 of November 2008

Full Moon 12th Lunar month, Loy Krathong (called Yi Peng in the north), the most romantic night on the Thai calendar, this year falls on Wednesday, November 12.

Loy Krathong festival in Bangkok

Loy Krathong festival in Bangkok

Loy Krathong, the “festival of lights” on the full moon of November. This is one of the Kingdom’s oldest and best-preserved traditions. Loy Krathong mean “flotaing Krathongs.” This is an offering to mother of water to ask her to forgive us for polluting the water. Krathong is a little cup shaped like a lotus flower, each with a candle and incense stick inside. The river-based culture that forms the foundation of the traditional Thai way of life, it is widely believed that these are offerings made to Mae Khongkha – Mother of Waters in an act of appeasement. Made of banana leaves, and decorated with incense and candles, thousands of these beautiful boats light up the night.Coins are also placed in the krathong as offerings. The most beautiful sights are at the Bang Sai Arts & Crafts Centre near Ayutthaya, and in the ruins of Sukhothai, the first Thai capital, where the festival is supposed to have originated. Many also believe that by setting adrift the krathong, one symbollically casts away one’s grief, misery and ill-fortunes. Loi Krathong is the time to make wishes for happiness together and success in love.

Loy Krathong in Chiang May

Loy Krathong in Chiang May

The Thai believe their misfortunes float away with the lanterns. Thousands of Yee Peng, candlelit floating lanterns, were released in Thailand on the full moon, 12th Lunar month of November. Loi Krathong customs and traditions reflect local beliefs and cultural evolution and interesting regional variations can be seen. In Tak province, the banana-leaf floats are replaced by coconut shells which are threaded together and launched simultaneously so they appear as long chains of hundreds of glittering lights on the Ping River, hence the origin of its name, “Loi Krathong Sai”. It’s believed that krathongs can carry away sins or bad luck, and represent the time to start the coming new year with hope of being joyful one and all sufferings are floated away with the krathong.

Posted by Evgo

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