Daily Life in Buddhist Temples  Bangkok - Thailand  Oct.2018

Buddhism in Thailand is large of the Theravada school, which is followed by 95 percent of the population. Thailand has the second largest Buddhist population in the world, after China, with approximately 64 million Buddhists. Buddhism in Thailand has also become integrated with folk religion as well as Chinese religions from the large Thai Chinese population. Buddhist temples in Thailand are characterized by tall golden stupas, and the Buddhist architecture of Thailand is similar to that in other Southeast Asian countries, particularly Cambodia and Laos, with which Thailand shares cultural and historical heritage. Buddhism is believed to have come to what is now Thailand as early as 250 BC, in the time of Indian Emperor Ashoka. Since then, Buddhism has played a significant role in Thai culture and society. Buddhism and the Thai monarchy has been intertwined, with Thai kings historically seen as the main patrons of Buddhism in Thailand. While Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, it inherited a strong Southeast Asian tradition of Buddhist kingship that tied the legitimacy of the state to its protection and support for Buddhist institutions. This connection has been maintained into the modern era, with Buddhist institutions and clergy being granted special benefits by the government, as well as being subjected to a certain amount of governmental oversight. Part of the coronation of the Thai monarch includes the king proceeding to the chapel royal (the Wat Phra Kaew) to vow to be a "defender of the faith" in front of a chapter of monks including the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand. (Source:wikipedia.org)

One of my goals on my trip to Bangkok was to document religious ceremonies in Buddhist monasteries. For this purpose, I visited some of them and explained myself and my work, I asked their permission to photograph the ceremonies. They invited me to two of their recent ceremonies. One of them was the Wat Dokmai temple. In the morning many people gathered in the temple garden. The monks lined up with bare feet in orange robes. Food and money were put in them as they walked in front of the people with metal containers in their hands. As the metal containers were filled, those who followed him were pouring them into sacks. When they were full, they were loaded in small vans. This continued in this way. When I asked why, they said that some of them were reserved for their own food, others were distributed in poor neighborhoods. When the ceremony was over, the monks sat down to breakfast in the temple. They invited me too. The place where they sat was a little higher than the ground in the form of a platform. It must be holy. I stood next to them on a chair on the floor. "Did you do good work?" they asked. I also left, thanking them for their interest and support. Buddhism is a great power governing the Thai people. There were warnings on the buses and the subway saying "Give your places to the monks". Their travels are free. Temples are all over the city, large and small. From the mini temples built on the corners to the great complexes like Wat Pho. People come with flowers in their hands, hang them in reserved places, and pray. The dominant color in flowers is the sacred color of Buddhism, yellow and orange. Apart from these, there are also those who leave fruit as an oblation. In a small temple in the city center at a point where the subway lines meet, some people paid a fee and prayed with music. There were small elephant statues of different sizes that were rented to worshipers. If the elephant is big, the rental price is big.