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.