This morning I visited Ancient Siam (formerly Ancient City) in Samut Prakan for their annual Mother’s Day activity. Over the last four or five years, the management have been organizing many different kinds of events at the park during all major holidays. Today is a public holiday for H.M. The Queen’s birthday. Ancient Siam is good to visit at any time of the year but even more so if there is a holiday. The biggest event is held during the Songkran holiday in April.
The event today took place in the Jade Pavilion in the Floating Market area. Local students were giving demonstrations of fruit carving, floral art and traditional Thai desserts. In the first picture, the student is folding back the petals of a lotus bud to make it look like it is flowering. These are often used for offerings at temples. In the second picture, the student is threading flowers onto a piece of string to make a jasmine garland.
The students were also demonstrating fruit carving which I would think needs a lot of practice to get right. It doesn’t look easy. However, the student on the right said it would only take him just over an hour to finish the floral display on the watermelon. The other student is carving a carrot to make it look like a flower. A lot of work is put into these pieces of art work but none of them really last that long.
I have posted more pictures over at the Samut Prakan Forums. I have also posted a video clip of this event at paknam.com. Before anyone says, we promoted this event first on our forums as the www.thai-blogs.com site is used only for reviews of tourist attractions and festivals. However, this event is held every year on Mother’s Day, so if you are around at this time next year then it is worth visiting.
Today, people from all over Thailand are celebrating Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 77th birthday. Like people in other regions of the country, many locals from Samut Prakan dressed in blue today which is the colour for Friday, the day that Her Majesty was born. Several thousand local people came together at the parade ground next to the Provincial Hall at 7 a.m. this morning to offer food to several hundred Buddhist monks.
The ceremony was opened by Mr. Kwanchai Wongnitikorn, the Governor of Samut Prakan Province. He first paid homage to a Buddha image and then took part in chanting. Attending the event were many local government officials who all came together to pay homage to Her Majesty. A similar event was being held at the same time in Bangkok at Sanam Luang. H.M. The Queen is regarded as a mother to all Thai people as they love her so much. Since 1976, this day has also been celebrated as National Mother’s Day.
After the chanting had finished, the Governor led the local people in giving alms to several hundred monks. Tables had been set up around the parade ground and local people had gathered behind them since early morning. They did this to make merit on behalf of H.M. The Queen. To make the most merit, the food should have been prepared by themselves before they arrived and not bought at a food stall. Leftovers from the night before must never be given to monks.
The local people stood behind the tables as the monks slowly made their way down the row. People were giving fresh food as well as pre-prepared packages such as pot noodles that you can see in this picture. As some of these items were too big for the alms bowls, each of the monks were assisted by temple boys who carried big sacks. The monk then emptied their bowls into these sacks. By the end of the alms giving event, the pick-up trucks from the temples were full with sacks of food. Local people also gave the monks purple orchid flowers and also envelopes containing money.
After the alms giving had finished, Mr. Kwanchai Wongnitikorn and local people made merit for H.M. The Queen by releasing 1,000,000 sea creatures into the Chao Phraya River. This is a common event done to make merit for birthdays. People usually release birds or fish. I thought that 1,000,000 was a staggering number to release in one go, but it turned out to be very small shrimps. These were in plastic bags which people emptied out into a large tub of water. From this there was a pipe which washed the shrimps out into the river below.
I have posted more pictures of these ceremonies, including a video at the Samut Prakan Forums. You can read more about Samut Prakan on our weekly online magazine at www.Paknam.com.