Regalia wish you a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year.
We will be closed for the festive season from January 30, 2014 to February 3, 2014. Business will resume on February 4, 2014.
We look forward to your continued support.
Religion and Culture
Thailand is probably the world’s largest Buddhist country with 95% of Thais being Theravada Buddhists. From an anthropological perspective, religion and culture are intertwined, that is to say, religion is actually a cultural universal of which includes beliefs and activities pertaining to supernatural beings, powers, and forces. Therefore, by virtue of Thai demographic composition, Thai Buddhism and, thus, Thai culture invariably comprises an integration of Theravada Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and other indigenous folk religions. The beliefs in supernatural beings, powers, and forces are traditional beliefs of the Thai people and they form a deeply entrenched culture known collectively as “Sayasak” (ไสยศาสตร์).
Theravada Buddhism is Thailand’s de facto national religion and, unlike other religion, Buddhism in general does not seek to force convert individuals to a particular set of belief system and, hence, is able to integrate other traditional beliefs, rituals, and practices in Thailand. As a result thereof, supernatural powers in the forms of Buddha images, amulets, talismans and et cetera are in toto important aspects of Thai Buddhism. The supernatural aspects of Thai Buddhism have become a popular culture that transcends beyond national boundary.
However, it has to be noted Thai Buddhism does not focus on the supernatural powers alone. The essence and fundamentals remain deeply-rooted in Buddhist principles. As Thai Buddhism grows and expands so do the number of religious teachers. Therefore, it is imperative for you to understand both the Dharma (the Buddhist teachings) and the Vinaya (the monastic discipline), which constitutes the main root of the Buddhasasana vis-a-vis the Buddhist religion.
It is hence our endeavor to dedicate this category for this purpose. In our upcoming article we will start off with the “Four Fulfilling Conditions” or Sampati in order to be accepted into monkhood.
Please check out this category regularly for new updates.
Today most people have heard of Wat Raikhing, the most prominent temple in Nakhom Pathom province. The temple was built in 2334 by the then abbot of Wat Sala Poon Woravihan Somdej Phra Buddhacharn Poot near the Nakhon Chaisri River in Tambon Raikhing, a village in Amphur Samphran, Changwat Nakhon Pathom during the reign of His Majesty the King Chulalongkorn or Rama V. Wat Raikhing is also known as Wat Mongkhun Chinda Ram Raikhing. On July 10, 2533, Wat Raikhing was officially upgraded from a common monastery to the status of Royal Monastery.
Annual Wat Raikhing Festival
Annually, during the Chinese Lunar New Year, thousands of faithful Buddhists flood to Wat Raikhing to worship Luang Phor Wat Raikhing, the golden Buddha image in the posture of Maravijaya that signifies victory over Mara. The atmosphere is festival with a host of entertainments. It is believed that worshipping Luang Phor Raikhing helps believers to be victorious. Then again, in the fifth month of the lunar calendar, there are yet another series of celebrations, collectively known as Wat Raikhing Festival, which begins on the 13th day of the waxing moon and ends on the 4th day of the waning moon.
A Brief History of Luang Phor Wat Raikhing
The golden Buddha image of Luang Phor Wat Raikhing measures 4 feet 2 inches in lap width and 4 feet 16 inches in height. The Buddha sits on a 5 level grandly decorated concrete base and faces north in the direction of Udon Thani. The origin of Luang Phoe Raikhing is not conclusively documented. However, it has been determined that the craftsmanship of the Buddha image resembles that of the Chiang Saen (Lanna) period. According to legend, the golden Buddha image was found drifting in the Chao Praya River close to Ayutthaya, and was retrieved by villagers who brought it to the Wat Sala Poon. It was subsequently relocated to and enshrined in the newly constructed Wat Raikhing in Nakhon Pathom.
Somdej Phra Buddhacharn Poot named that temple Wat Raikhing after the district it was located. However, Prince Vachirayan Varoros gave the temple the official name Wat Mongkhun Chinda Ram Raikhing. Nonetheless, most people continued calling it Wat Raikhing until this day and its official name is seldom used or even known. The villagers also addressed the golden Buddha as Luang Phor Wat Raikhing or simply as Luang Phor Raikhing.
Once the construction of Wat Raikhing was completed, thousands of huge sawai fish began appearing in the river behind Wat Raikhing. The image of the golden Buddha was then sailed downstream from Wat Sala Poon in Ayutthaya to Wat Raikhing in Nakhon Pathom on a bamboo raft. It was said that the arrival of Luang Phor Raikhing changed the weather in Nakhon Pathom from a burning heat to a cooling pleasure that was interpreted as an auspicious sign of prosperity. True enough, the village began to prosper and the villagers devoutly made frequent homage to Luang Phor Raikhing. Hitherto, those huge sawai fish still exist in huge numbers in the river flowing through the Mae Nam Tha Chin behind the temple and it has since become customary for worshippers to feed the fish with bread after praying to Luang Phor Raikhing.
Amulets consecrated by Luang Phor Panya
It is believed that Luang Phor Raikhing bestows devotees with success, affluence, and good health. Annually, thousands and thousands of devotees from all over the world travel to Nakhom Pathom specifically to worship Luang Phor Raikhing. Most believers would also enshrine a holy image of Luang Phor Raikhing at home and the more devout would even wear an amulet of Luang Phor Raikhing.
Luang Phor Panya, or Phra Ubali Khunupamajarn, the greatly respected abbot of Wat Raikhing, who was awakened at the age of 84 in Februabry 14, 2008, has over the years made various images and amulets of Luang Phor Raikhing. Each of these images and amulets were consecrated through traditional Thai incantation and they are quite pricey. However, despite the costliness these sacred items their demands are ever escalating.
Life size statue of Somdej Toh in Wat Khao
Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh, popularly known as “Ajahn Toh”, “Somdej Toh”, “Luang Pu Toh”, or “Somdej Wat Rahkang” is the most respected monk in the Kingdom of Thailand. His Venerable was the abbot of Wat Rahkang Kositaram Woramahaviharn for 20 years from the reigns of Rama IV to Rama V.
Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh was the most prominent guru master who was versed in the art of supernatural, especially metta mahaniyom. He has made and consecrated many powerful Phra Somdej amulets of which formed one of the five most sacred amulets known as Phra Baenjakphraki in Thailand. These Phra Somdej amulets have a current market value of millions of Baht. It is believed owning one of these sacred amulets ensures one’s prosperity and success. Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh has also constructed many large Buddha images during his life time. The most prominent being the standing Buddha image in Wat Indaravihan located in Bang Khun Phrom, Bangkok. His Venerable is highly respected by both the royal families and the commoners from the days when he was still alive until hitherto.
A Brief History
Somdej Phra HBuddhacharntoh was born in April 17, 2331 in Baan Ta Luang, Ampur Ta Reur, Chanwat Si Ayutthaya during the reign of Rama I, just 7 years after the establishment of Rattanakosin. There are many versions of saying about the birth of Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh. However, none is able to conclusively establish who his parents were. What may be deduced from all those references is that Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh was a native of Ayutthaya and was possibly of royal linage.
Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh was first ordained as Samak Nen Toh in 2343 and subsequently ordained as Phra Phisuk Toh in the year 2350 at Wat Prasi Rattana Sasanaram. His preceptor was Somdej Arayuthwongsaya Somdej Phra Sangkarak. He excelled in both the scriptures and magical practices and became highly respected.
During the reign of Rama III, His Majesty conferred the title of Somdej on Phra Phisuk Toh. However, Phra Phisuk Toh refused to accept the honor. He instead travelled the kingdom on foot and built various Buddha images such as Phra Put Saiyak in Wat Satheur, tamboon Tak Luang, chanwat Si Ayutthaya, Luang Phor Toh in Wat Kiat Chayeo, chanwat Angthong and et cetera. All these required huge amount of capital of which Phra Phisuk Toh raised through rituals and miracles.
Somdej Wat Rahkang
Again during the reign of Rama IV, His Majesty favored making Phra Phisuk Toh the first Phra Ratansamanasak. In the year 2395, Phra Phisuk was made the abbot of Wat Rahkang Khositaram Woramahavihan at the age of 65. However, Phra Phisuk again refused to accept the title conferred by King Mongkut until 2397. Then in 2407, he was conferred the title of Phra Theapkui and became known as Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh Promarangsi.
During his tenure as abbot of Wat Rahkang Khositaram Woramahavihan, both Wat Mai Amatarot and Wat Indaravihan came under his purview and influence. Buddha images and amulets were made for these temples by His Venerable.
The Awakening of Somdej Toh
In the year 2410, Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh embarked on his last sacred construction, the image of Luang Pu Toh or Phra Yern, officially known as Phra Sri Ariya Emtatri, in Wat Indaravihan, also known as Wat Bang Khun Phrom. However, he entered into parinibbana in Wat Bang Khum Phrom on June 22, 2415 when the image was only built up to its navel level. He was then age 84.
After his awakening, his teachings remained alive. The first image of Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh was built and housed in Wat Kiat Chayeo in 2444 during the reign of Rama V. Shortly thereafter, another image measuring 40.2 centimeter was built and honored in Wat Indaravihan and another in the meditating posture measuring 48 centimeters was enshrined in Wat Rahkang Khositaram Woramahavihan.As of today, more than a century after his awakening, his followers and believers has transcended beyond the Kingdom of Thailand.
Amulets of Somdej Toh
The amulets made by Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh, whether under Wat Rahkang, Wat Indaravihan, Wat Mai Amatarot, or Wat Kiat Chayeo equally remained expensive and highly sought after. However, because each of these amulets has a market value over millions of Baht, not many people can afford them. Even those made and consecrated by his successors are equally expensive and highly sought after. Consequently, replicas and imitations flooded the market and it would be wise to seek authentication from the respective temple if you are about to pay a hefty price for an amulet.
Besides the Phra Somdej amulets, the images of Somdej Toh from Wat Rahkang, Wat Indaravihan, Wat Mai Amatarot, and Wat Kiat Chayeo are also very precious and loved. They range from a few hundred to a few thousand Singapore dollars. It is believed that anyone offering and/or wearing the images of Somdej Toh is blessed with intelligence and protection. This has made the image of Somdej Toh very popular with executives and students.