The grounds of a Buddhist temple in Thailand have a variety of buildings of all shapes and sizes. At first glance their use might seem to be random. But, there is one building, called the “phra ubosot” which is not only the most sacred but also has distinguishing features that makes it easy to spot. Surrounding the consecrated area there is a boundary marked by eight stone slabs. In Thai these are called “sima” (see-maa) and are often leaf shaped. They can be found at the cardinal points of the compass.
What I didn’t realize before is that beneath these stone slabs there is a sacred stone ball called “luk nimit” in Thai. You don’t normally see them as they are usually buried. I took these pictures at the weekend at Wat Rat Niyom Tham in Amphoe Bang Phli, Samut Prakan. I was there to take pictures of the ceremony attended by the Samut Prakan Governor to consecrate a new “ubosot”. Local people were there to pray and also to place gold leaf on the stone balls. They would later be buried with the “sima” stone placed on top.
In addition to the eight balls surrounding the building, a ninth stone ball is buried inside and then the main Buddha image is placed on top. Lay people don’t normally use this building. There are other buildings, for example the “viharn” which also has a Buddha image. What makes the “ubosot” special as it is the only place where an ordination can take place. Hence it is sometimes called the “ordination hall”. Actually, the first part of the ordination can take place anywhere in the temple grounds. However, the last part can only take part in the “ubosot”.
You can see more pictures of this ceremony in our Samut Prakan Photo Album. I will also cross-post it in our Thai Buddhism blog where you will find more information about Buddhism in Thailand..