IN PHOTOS: Pia Wurtzbach Visits The Golden Mount Temple Fair In Bangkok For 'Pia's Postcards'
Pia Wurtzbach witnesses the beauty and culture of Bangkok at the Golden Mount Temple Fair
Thailand is home to over 30,000 stunning temples because it is believed that building temples give people good fortune. In Bangkok alone, there are 400 or more temples to visit. But if you don’t have time to check out all of the temples, the Golden Mount Temple Fair is one of the best times to visit Bangkok to experience Thai and Buddhist cultures while you enjoy the beauty and serenity of their landmark temples.
Pia Wurtzbach goes to Bangkok during the Golden Mount Temple Fair for the newest episode of Pia’s Postcards and she gives us a run-down of what to expect and experience at the fair.
Origins of the Golden Mount Temple Fair
The three pillars of Thailand are the monarchy, its people, and their religion. That’s why temples are at the core of every communal and personal life of a Thai. Temple fairs are held all around the year throughout the country as a way to celebrate their culture and religion. As a tourist, it may be hard to know the dates of temple fairs across Thailand because the dates change depending on the lunar year, but one of the biggest temple fairs that have been welcoming to tourists is the Golden Mount Temple Fair held annually at Wat Saket.
Today, the Wat Saket temple fair remains to be the oldest and grandest of temple fairs in the whole of Thailand. The week-long event was started by King Raman V, whose intentions behind the fair is to unite the people of Bangkok. Wat Saket is known as one of the most sacred sites in Thailand because it houses many relics of the Buddha.
During the festival, a long red cloth is paraded around the district and thousands of people hold on to the cloth until it reaches the Wat Saket pagoda. The cloth is then wrapped around the chedi. The significance of wrapping the cloth around the pagoda represents clothing the Buddha. Buddhists believe that when they clothe the Buddha, in every future reincarnation, they will never go without clothing.
Throughout the year, entrance to the Wat Saket is at 10 baht. But during the Golden Mount Temple Fair, entrance is free to everyone who would like to make the pilgrimage.
Part of the pilgrimage during the temple fair is climbing up 344 steps to the top of the temple, where you will be treated to a jaw-dropping view of the temple’s stupa covered in bright ceremonial cloth. It is also the highest point in Bangkok so you’ll have a 360-degree view of the city. But interestingly, Pia notes that the climb isn’t too tiring or taxing because there are lots of interesting stops along the way.
There are bells that you can ring that are regarded as doorbells to the heavens so gods can hear you. It is also believed that as the sound of the bell travels, your name will also travel and ring in the ears of the people who know you, so you will be well known when you ring the bell.
It’s also customary to offer a lotus flower to any of the Buddhist statues as a sign of respect. People also light incense sticks for the Buddha and light different colored candles for different intercessions. Pia chose to light a red candle for success and love, and a purple candle for good fortune.
There’s also a station where you can put your name and wishes on a bronze leaf, and then hang it. After the festival, the leaves are then melted and made it into a Buddha image, which is then donated to a countryside temple.
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There are also other interesting temples surrounding Wat
Saket. Wat Traimit, for example, is known for housing the biggest golden
Buddha in Thailand. It’s made from 5.5 tons of pure gold and is 700 years old. It
is estimated to cost 30 million pounds.
Wat Pho is also a famous temple because of its gigantic reclining Buddha. When at Wat Pho, it’s encouraged to purchase small favors, which act as a small donation that will go toward the upkeep of the temple. You can then offer the coins to the Buddha while making wishes as you make your way out.
Thai Festival Of Lights
Coinciding with the week-long Golden Mount Temple Fair is the Loy Krathong, or the Thai Festival of Lights. During this festival, thousands of krathong, which is made of banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense, are launched into the water as an offering to the mother goddess of the earth. Make a wish before you launch the krathong into the water and dedicate a prayer to your ancestors. It is also a way to ask for forgiveness from the mother goddess for all the pollution and bad deeds you have done that harmed the environment.
Even though Thailand is made of many canals and riverways, all krathong are launched into small pools or stagnant bodies of water so as not to pollute the natural waters. After the festival, all the krathong are collected and disposed of properly.