New Year Merit Making 2011

Happy New Year 2011! I hope everyone had fun celebrating last night and managed to get safely back home. This time of year is really dangerous on the roads and I prefer to stay at home rather than travel to other provinces. Too many drunk drivers out there. However, the big exodus from Bangkok still went ahead leaving a virtually empty city. I drove into Bangkok yesterday and a 90 minute drive took only 20 minutes. I wish it was like that all the time.

Judging by these photographs, not everyone was nursing hangovers this morning. The main road through Samut Prakan was closed at 6 a.m. for a big merit making ceremony. I was up before sunrise this morning and headed down to the City Pillar for the ceremony. I go every year to take pictures of the Governor for my local newspaper and also for our online news magazine about Samut Prakan. By 7 a.m. there were already over 1,000 people.

This picture shows the Governor of Samut Prakan and his wife making merit by giving alms to the monks. This is a traditional Thai way of bringing yourself good luck for the new year. Merit making events like this one are not easy for the local media as we get less than a minute to get a picture of the Governor before it is all over. Each monk also has a “luk sit” or temple boy, who continually empties his alms bowl into a sack. I think I was lucky to get a clear shot.

Exactly 99 monks from nine local temples were invited to attend the chanting and merit making. Tables had been lined up on both sides of the road and people came early with food and essential supplies to offer to the monks. After the chanting, the Governor of Samut Prakan then gave everyone a blessing for a prosperous new year. Then the 99 monks came out to receive the alms. You can see the temple boys in this picture with their heavy sacks. A lot of alms were collected today.

I have posted more pictures of this merit making event on my Facebook page here.

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