Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, Thailand

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The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is an ancient royal rite held in Thailand to mark the traditional beginning of the rice-growing season.  In the ceremony, two sacred oxen are hitched to a wooden plough and they plough a furrow in some ceremonial ground, while rice seed is sown by court Brahmins, in this case by administrators from the Ministry of Agriculture.

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In both Cambodia and Thailand, the ceremony is typically presided over by the King or an appointee. In recent years in Thailand, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has presided over the ceremony, which is held at Sanam Luang in Bangkok. Rice grown on the Chitralada Palace grounds, home of King Bhumibol Adulyadej is sown in the ceremony, and afterward, onlookers swarm the field to gather the seed, which is believed to be auspicious.  

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In Thailand, the rite dates back to the Sukhothai Kingdom 11th century and is held to bless Thai farmers and ensure a good harvest.  The date is usually in May, but varies as it is determined by Hora (astrology).

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Just after finishing this ceremony, people -most of them farmers- fell down the hedge and run into the area to pick up the rice seed  
After the ploughing, the oxen are offered plates of food, including rice, corn, green beans, sesame, fresh-cut grass, water and rice whisky.  Depending on what the oxen eat, court astrologers and Brahmins make a prediction on whether the coming growing season will be bountiful or not. The ceremony is rooted in Brahman belief, and is held to ensure a good harvest.

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Farmers in many provinces begin planting rice on the Royal Ploughing Day because they believe the ceremony will provide an auspicious beginning to the new planting season and bring them an abundance of crops.

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Farmers said the Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day presented an auspicious opportunity for them and others to start the new farming season and expressed belief that the rite will ensure a good harvest due to an abundance of rain and an absence of pestilence and floods.

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A nun patiently seeks after rice seed, she spent 
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According to some statistic agency, people in Asia eat between 100 -250 kilos of rice per person, a year. 
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Due to the crowd looking for the rice seed, it is quite hard to find it... I was not able to find any.... a farmer proudly showed me the ones he got!!!
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A woman carries two small plastic bags containing rice seed .
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However, for some people this ceremony is a good opportunity  to make business
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5 grains of rice seed costed 5 THB (USD 0.13)
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With such amount of 'blessed' rice seed, this woman is sure to secure some years of profitable harvest ; )!!!
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