Temples in Thailand
The Thai Buddhist temple, or Wat, is both a place of worship and a community center. In most cases, a wat is composed of a collection of buildings, shrines, and monuments within a courtyard that is enclosed by a wall. There are over 30000 wats in Thailand that welcome all visitors to stay as guests. Refugee laypeople are fed and sheltered for up to 3 days, after which they are expected to shave their heads, and don the habits if they are to stay longer.
The largest building is the wharn,
which is where public laypeople can interface with the resident monks for
ceremonies, study, or merit making. A Thai temple may also contain a bot,
where exclusive monks ceremonies take place, as well as chedis, or
pagodas, and salas, which are open walled pavillions.
The bot is the most elaborate building in the wat, heavily ornate inside and out, it houses the collection of golden Buddha icons, and is usually decorated with murals depicting the lives of Buddha. Bots have layered roofs, whose number is always odd, as odd numbers are considered lucky. Due to their wealth, bots are locked at night, and heavily defended by walls, and mystical protectors. Serpentine nagas protect bot entrances, as they protected Buddha during his reflection. Grotesque giant warriors, Yaks are armed with clubs and sabre teeth, and are posted in pairs as sentries at the bot’s entrance.
holds an anniversary celebration annually, which is a colourful fair, very
popular with Samui locals. The fairs include cultural shows of dancing,
religious chanting, shadow puppets, open-air movies, beauty pageants,
concerts, and huge markets featuring a comprehensive array of food stalls,
household goods, clothing, furniture, and knick-knacks. These fairs are
recommended for an immersive soak in the joyous spirit of Thai
celebrations, and their wealth of aromatic offerings.
Resident monks are supported by their local community, and traditionally walk the streets in the early morning, collecting alms of food. Lay people can gain mystic merit by giving alms or making donations to their wat. Monks’ duties extend beyond the confines of the temple, where they are employed to give blessings to any new buildings or spirit houses. Whenever a new building is ready for occupation, a spirit house must be installed to accommodate any lurking ghosts or spirits. Monks also preside over wedding and funeral ceremonies.
to see on Koh Samui
Wat Phra Yai in Bang Rak, is Samui’s most famous temple, and home to the 12 metre seated golden Buddha statue that looks out over Big Buddha bay. The wat is located on a small island that is connected to the shore by a causeway. There are many shops, restaurants, and cafés outside the temple compound to entice visitors.
Wat Plai Laem is one of Koh Samui's largest and newest temples, with an ornate wat located on an island within a lake.
Wat Laem Sor
at the southern tip of Samui, features a beautiful golden Chedi, or
pagoda, situated on the rocky shore, and constructed from thousands of
Wat Sisu Wanna
Ram in Bang Por on the north coast, features one of Thailand's top massage
schools, where you can study the ancient Ayurvedic based techniques of
traditional Thai massage under the expert tutelage of the resident monks.
Wongkaram is famous for displaying the mummified remains of a monk
that seems to be immune to decay, as is Wat Khunaram.
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