Sunday, February 12, 2012

A multicultural community in Bangkok... more than one hundred years ago!!

Nowadays is quite common to hear and see people from different cultures and religion living together in the same community. Although it sounds common, there are many conflicts among them... it seems that people holding different religions can not get along each other. However, this idea is possible. On Saturday 11-Feb-2012 We went to visit a small community in Thonburi, the area where we live.  We have heard about a community we can find the variety of cultural heritage based on 3 religions and 4 beliefs (Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, Christianity and Islam) and the people have lived together peacefully since Thonburi  period until nowadays. In this community people from different cultures, religions and believes live in harmony from more than one hundreds years ago. This area is on the southern edge of the old Portuguese community (Kuthi Jeen), an area designated to Portuguese merchants and government officials during the Early Rattanakosin Period, not far away from Wat Arun or Temple of Down.

We began our trip at Wat Kalayanamitr.   The first thing any visitor see from the distance is the Chinese red and white lanterns which are swaying.  Various kinds of bells hang around the temple area. Seniors always say that ones may find peace when listen to the sound of swinging bells.
Buddhist temple with both Chinese and Thai roof style.  The small monastery and chapel were created with Thai and Chinese arts. Chinese pagodas place around. Chinese and Thai have been deep rooted for hundreds years since Sukhothai kingdom.

In front of the pavilion (Viharn), six of golden Chinese Gods sculptures stand. The God of Luck is in the first order since it is priority concerned. He is the plumpest among the sculptures. The rest of them are Gods of constancy, love, fighting, cure and wealthy. Notably, some people touched the sculptures, asking for blessings.  Behind these Chinese gods, there is a Buddha image inside the pavilion (Viharn)

A mother and her son pray in front of a Chinese god, later this family came into the pavilion to pray in front of the Buddha image.



After walking around the pavilion, we stepped closer to the main monastery.  We were stunned with a huge golden Buddha image, sitting in the center of the main monastery.  With 19 meters height and 20 meters long measure in the posture of meditation, it has become the biggest Buddha image in Bangkok.  Although it was built in Rattanakosin kingdom, it has four arts characteristics. King Rama III impressed with Ayudhaya kingdom’s miracle Buddha image at Panacherng temple, which was constructed 685 years ago, therefore the royal architectures designed this biggest Buddha image with the Buddha image at Panacherng’s pattern. Amid similarity, there’s difference. This biggest Buddha image smiles, while most of Ayudhaya’s Buddha images looked solemn.  This biggest Buddha image design might influenced by Sukhothai kingdom’s arts.

Inside the main monastery, the mixing arts of architectures reflect Thai and Chinese nationalities. Mural is drawn with pictures of flowers. Altar tables and vases upon are decorated with bas-reliefs of golden dragons, tigers and angels. Alongside with mural, some people took bottles of holy water and mystic symbol papers for worship. Those papers are hardly tobe seen in other Thai temples as it initiated in China. They believe that drinking holy water with the papers ash would obviate the persons from darkness and accusation. 
While sound of “fortune stick shaking” continued, we found origin of the sound I heard at first. There are two of huge ancient drums near the gates, symbols of victory. Hence, people hit the drums with belief that it might bring luck.

These two ladies are teaching the toddler to shak the 'fortune sticks'.  The fallen stick have a number, this number contain a text which presage part of their fate.
After making merit by offering food, this family were blessed by the monk.



According to the Chinese Calendar, 2012 is the year of the Dragon.   This dragon statue is just in front of both Thai buddhist and Chinese temple. To see pictures about the celebration of Chinese new year click here and here 

After visiting these temples, this group of Thai tourists were taking some memories.... Everybody was happy.. so I grasped the camera and shot!!!

It’s about 4 p.m. in the afternoon as we headed to another observation though this quite pathway along the King River.  

Kuan Yin shrine is located on Klong Bang Kok Yai in Kudi Jeen community (Chinese Monk’s house), supposedly named as many Chinese living there, facing the Chao Praya River of Thonburi side. We walk through the small path that leads us to the Goddess of Mercy. The surrounding ambience feel the sense of community of helping and caring to each other; the olds are bubbling about their pasts or things around them that could be claimed, children are playing around with the gang, some households build up their fronts as a small noodle restaurant and an order-in restaurant, some open as engine care (fixing; bicycle, any machines, TV, radio) or a small clinic, that seems to be remain since years as if she has prospered merci to people in the village.

We continued walking along riverside and found the reddish dome of an old Catholic church. Also known as Wat Kudi Jeen, with its dome shaped tower and yellow and pink coloring, Santa Cruz Church is a distinctive landmark on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River. Originally built by the Portuguese who supported the Thai King in his battle with the Burmese, this is now the third church on the site. The area around the church still bears some Portuguese influence with special sponge cakes made from European recipes. It is surrounded by narrow streets along small canals, where people live in close communities. Viewing inside the church is by appointment only. 
Like the early Catholic churches in Thailand, Santa Cruz Church continues to play a major role in education. Two schools were built around the church; Santa Cruz Suksa School and Santa Cruz Convent.
In the outer courtyard behind the church, the statues of Mary and Joseph stand like guardian angels over the Kudi Jeen community.  The image of Jesus is located in front of the temple.
Finally, “Kudi Jeen” is one of the oldest historic district of Bangkok comprises 6 small communities namely, Wat Kalaya Community, Kudi Jeen Community, Wat Prayurawong Community, Wat Buppharam Community, Kudi Khao Community and Rong Khram Community, which have maintained their variety of cultural heritage based on 3 religions and 4 beliefs as mentioned at the beginning.

We finished our trip at almost 5 p.m. and decided to go back home.  We could not find the muslim community; however, we will come back again later.  Of course, we will never forget to share our experiences on this blog.  

No comments:

Post a Comment