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In meritorious harmony

Posted on 26 November 2015 by admin

A Saffron robe being brought to the temple.

After the end of Buddhist Lent, the people of Mae Chaem, a peaceful district in Chiang Mai province, harmoniously lend their hands to organise Chula Krathin, a religious ceremony.

Before the onset of winter, rice paddies in the valley are fertile and farmers hurry to harvest. No matter how busy they are, they do not ignore one of the most important ceremonies of the year, Chula Krathin.

Krathin is a Buddhist ritual connected to “Ok Phansa” or the end of Buddhist Lent, in October. Buddhists join a merit-making ceremony and gather at the temple to offer robes and everyday items, such as utensils, toiletries, writing materials and food, to the monks. The offering of new, saffron robes to the monks is an important and meritorious thing to do.

Chula KrathinÂ�means “Tiny Krathin” but it is a big event with an extraordinary process. Buddhists will make the saffron robes, from picking raw cotton to weaving and dyeing the cloth. Each process is done by hand and the saffron robes must be completed within a day.

Villagers walk through rice paddies.

As Chula Kratin is labour-intensive, requiring yarn makers, weavers, dyers, a chef and staff for each process, temples do not host it. But Wat Ban Thap in Mae Chaem is a village full of cotton textile weavers. A number of professional weavers in the village enliven the ceremony.

Before the day, men prepare the site and construct bamboo shades and stages. Looms are gradually relocated to the temple grounds. Ladies decorate the site with sun dried flowers and prepare for catering on the big day.

On the appointed day, the ceremony starts at dusk. After the religious rituals, virgins roam the cotton farms and collect raw cotton. Then the process of making saffron robes runs throughout the night.

People from other villages show up to lend a hand at every stage. The event becomes a party of religious contribution, where lady weavers happily work side by side with their friends. In the festive atmosphere, girls eagerly learn to weave, boys play with fireworks and fly Lanna lanterns, while men enjoy chatting after the long day.

“Chula Krathin is a great merit-making ceremony. If you lend a hand to organise the event, you will earn much more merit than other ways,” says Kampor Kulanan, a lady from a nearby village. “Unlike the men, ladies cannot enter the monkhood. But we can make robes, and this is also a great way to make merit.”

The saffron robes are completed by late night and dyed just a couple of hours before dawn. All night shift contributors go back home for short naps.

They gather again in the late morning, in their best dresses. Mae Chaem is famed for its tube skirts, or pha sin teek jok, of which lower parts is adorned with delicate patterns. All ladies proudly show up in their best pha sin teek jok and white shirts. Their hair is beautified with Mae Chaem’s traditional hair pins and flowers.

With the saffron robes they have just completed, participants happily dance around the village and offer the robes to the monks. 

It may not be as big as Krathin held in the city, but Chula Krathin is a small and beautiful ceremony that shows the great harmony of Mae Chaem Buddhists.

Travel info

Krathin is normally held late September or October. Besides Mae Chaem, Chula Krathin can be found in some Northern and Northeastern provinces.

Mae Chaem is roughly 120km from Chiang Mai. Scheduled buses (songthaews) leave Chomthong for Mae Chaem five times a day, from 9.30am-5.30pm. The fare is 70 baht per person. Call Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Chiang Mai Office on 053-248-604.

Weavers working to make saffron robes.

Dancers lead the parade to the temple.

Mae Chaem’s famous pha sin teen jok skirts.

Cottons is ready for the Chula Krathin ceremony. The locals plant cotton from the beginning of rainy season in August and get raw cotton by October.

Article source: http://feeds.bangkokpost.com/c/33101/f/535956/s/4bcae58c/sc/38/l/0L0Sbangkokpost0N0Ctravel0Cin0EthailanϨC7771610Cin0Emeritorious0Eharmony/story01.htm

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