A royal ox eats bowls of maize and grass during an annual Royal Plowing ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand, Wednesday, May 11, 2005. Thailand’s royal soothsayer predicted heavy rains and plentiful crops for the country at the annual ceremony Wednesday, after two sacred oxen ate from symbolic bowls of maize and grass. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Thai royal oxen predict rainy, productive year
Wednesday May 11 2005
BANGKOK (Reuters) – Sacred Thai oxen predicted good fortunes for the coming year on Wednesday with abundant rains and healthy crops, a similar prediction to last year which saw one of the worst droughts in years.
The ancient ploughing ceremony in Buddhist Thailand, overseen by Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, marks the end of the dry season and is meant to herald an auspicious start for the rice-planting season in a region where many people still depend on agriculture.
In a ritual outside the gilded pagodas of Bangkok’s Grand Palace telecast live on television, the oxen ploughed a symbolic furrow in the dusty ground then tucked into grass and corn off banana-leaf platters, signifying a bountiful harvest and ample rains.
Offered a range of dishes, the Thai bulls steered clear of alcohol — which signifies trade and transport — but also turned up their noses at a plate of rice, the staple diet of the southeast Asian nation’s 63 million people.
In a related rite, the ploughing chief picked a costume that meant there would be a lot of water this year.
The prediction was similar to last year, but Thailand went on to face a prolonged drought which cut rice production by 11 percent and trimmed economic growth forecasts.