Monday, November 23, 2009

THAILAND: Under the Bodhi Tree


Have you noticed that there are so many types of Buddhas all over Asia? I've seen fat and jolly Buddhas in China, thin and semi-serious Buddhas in Thailand, and  meditating (in the lotus position) Buddhas in India. I found out that there are three main types of Buddhism -- Mahayana (China, Korea, Japan), Theravada (Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia) and Tibetan (Tibet, obviously). Yet, despite the different "sects", all of them believe in Buddha as the teachers, the Four Noble Truths, the Eight Fold Path and Nirvana. There's also a kind of Buddhism that is blended with some Hindu beliefs. I have two Thai Buddhist friends who can't eat beef because the mother of the Hindu god they worship is a cow. I wonder which category of Buddhism that falls into!


Long earlobes

Fingers like candle sticks

Gallery of Buddhas in a temple in Phuket



I visited Wat Pho (Wat means "temple" in Thai) in Bangkok which is famous for having the most number of Buddha images and the largest reclining Buddha in the whole of Thailand. The reclining Buddha was huge and its presence was intimidating. The Buddha's eyes were slightly shut but his pupils still peered through his eyelids. As I walked under the Buddha, I felt as if his eyes were following me like how the moon does when you walk on the streets at night. On one side of the hall were small steel pots. Visitors can get some coins at the entrance in exchange for a small donation for the temple. They drop one coin in each pot all the way until the end to get a wish from Buddha.

You can't see me!

Funky Hair


Pattern on the walls

Here's another one

Buddha and I

Start dropping the coins here

Another Thai Buddhist ritual is placing golden leaves on the Buddha. This is considered as a sign of respect and a means to receive merit for requests from Buddha. This gold leaf is actually made out of real gold pounded to a sheet 0.000005 inches thin. When you enter a temple, the caretaker will give you a small square sheet of gold together with some incense and, sometimes, a lotus flower as well. You peel the gold off the sheet and stick in on any part of the icon.

See the healthy Buddha in the background?

Four-cornered jewelry

This entry barely scratched the surface of Buddhism in Thailand. And Buddhism is just one of the many religions in Asia! Undoubtedly, the different beliefs, icons, images, and teachings brewing in the melting pot that is Asia make the experience of traveling a whole lot richer.

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