Monday, May 28, 2007

Visit to Wat Phra Mahathat

On 20th May 2007, after taking a tour around the temples in Pattalung, I asked my driver to take me all the way to Wat Phra Mahathat in Nakhon Si Thammarat, the famous birthplace of Jatukam Ramathep, a guardian deity that has taken Thailand by storm. All over Pattalung & even more so in NST, one can see Jatukam amulet ads virtually everywhere, from the roadside billboards, to banners, posters, shops, buildings, t-shirts. There is nowhere one can turn & NOT see Jatukam. This is indeed the height of the craze. When I arrived there in the afternoon, there was a consecration ceremony going on & the place was thronging with devotees, locals, visiting students, tourists & dealers.

Here we have children playing in the Buddha Footprint shrine of the temple.

The billboard advertising the batch of Jatukam amulets & buchas being consecrated on that day.

The statues of the 2 princes, Jatukam & Ramathep, the founders of this temple. Behind them is a replica of the ship containing the relics, which was capsized & drifted to this land. The marble board on the right tells of their legend.

A white chedi in the courtyard.

The entrance to the main shrine.

Walkway of minor chedis.

The focal point of the whole temple, the great Phra Boromathat Chedi housing the Buddha's relics.

The secondary chedi of the temple. Didn't know what it is called.

Inside the holy shrine of the main chedi. The flight of steps lead inside the chedi itself.

A closer look. The statues of Jatukam & Ramathep sit on the left & right of the chedi entrance, eternally guarding the relics of the Buddha. Its a bit dark inside the shrine and I apologise that my camera's flash isn't powerful enough.

Also guarding the entrance is this red skinned Tao Wessuwan.

A Phra Ruang statue opposite the entrance.

This red Naga King is another one of the guardians.

So is this blue Naga King.

Another view of the Phra Boromathat Chedi. All the minor chedis pay homage to the main one.

The outer perimeter of the main shrine, lined with Buddha statues and donation boxes.

The inner perimeter of the main shrine, lined with even bigger Buddha statues.

This marble board is inscribed with the Katha to pay homage to the relics in the Chedi. One is supposed to recite Namo tassa 3 times, followed by this Katha 3 times.

The Phra Ruang outside the temple's Bot.

Wax statues of the past abbots.

Another 2 wax statues of past abbots.

The Saisin (holy thread) web hanging above the altar of the Bot.

A great Bodhi tree in the courtyard. Locals rest on the benches below the tree. A farang teenager guided by a Thai girl have also came to tour the temple. Wonder if he could understand what is going on here or maybe even appreciate the powerful symbolism of the structures in this famous temple?

By right, having come all the way to this temple, I should get a Jatukam amulet or bucha back, but at this time anything associated with Jatukam is way too expensive. So the only souvenier I obtained is this more affordable brass bucha of Phra Buddha Sihing, the principal Buddha image of this province. I have placed it on my office altar for veneration. After getting this bucha, I proceeded on the long 2-hour journey back to Hadyai. Truly, the rise of Jatukam has brought immense wealth to this temple, as well as the whole populace of NST in recent years. But as all things are impermanent, what will happen to all these people who have put their livelihoods on the deity, once the craze subsides? Hmm..

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