In the early hours of this morning, which is the first day of the new year, hundreds of local people from Paknam headed towards the city pillar shrine in order to make merit. This is the Thai way of welcoming in the new year. While many people were still nursing hangovers from the New Year’s party the night before, devoted Buddhists made merit by presenting food and flowers to the monks.
The road in front of the city pillar was closed to traffic. On both sides of the road, tables were set up. People started arriving as early as 6 a.m. in order to reserver a spot behind one of the tables. They brought with them food from home specially prepared for the monks. Others bought food at local shops. An hour later, there were several thousand people lining both sides of the road. The ceremony started with some chanting and then the abbot rode in the back of a pickup truck blessing people with holy water. Afterwards the mayor of Paknam said a few words, wishing everyone a prosperous new year. Then the monks came out and walked up and down the road so that local people could make merit by offering food.
Each monk had a helper who walked next to him carrying a big sack. As each devotee placed food in the monks alms bowl, this was then taken out and put into the sacks. As these became full, they were then tipped into large wheel barrows and taken away to waiting trucks. None of this food goes to waste. After the monks have finished their breakfast the remaining food is given away to local poor people.
I wish to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy new year. For us, 2005 has been been a very good year. There has been some excellent articles on Thai life written by the bloggers here at thai-blogs.com. I am very proud to be part of the team. I wish to thank “trangam” from the forums who has put together a top 20 list of the best blogs for every month during 2005. You can see these at thaicolumn.com. It has been a very good year for us. The content has been so rich that we have spread to a number of new web sites: enjoythaifood.com, thaibuddhist.com and thailandvoice.com are just a few examples. The year 2006 promises to be just as rewarding.