“October is the perfect month to do the 9-temple spiritual merit journey as the Buddhist lending period, Khao Phansa ends. In the eyes of a Thai, that merit can be done at any time in the year, but preferred is either on any of the weekly Buddhist days (Wan Phra) or on a special Buddhist ceremony periods throughout the year.“
The 9-temple journey is the time to give alms, money and well wishing to the family and loved ones. Special clothing is not required besides the standard polite dressing.
9 temples in 1 Day (Likely Northeast Thailand, Isaan)
Spiritual Thais know exactly when they should prepare for the 9-temple journey and are sad when they miss the opportunity for one reason or the other. It is not an event that needs to celebrated and performed, but if so, so better. On the other hand, if they did it, you could see their smile on their face. It makes a Buddhist really happy to complete that special journey once or a few times per year.
Thais plan and chose their sacred temples carefully, although for this journey almost every temple would do. Which ones are selected depends usually on the living location of each person but likely the more famous temples outside the own direct daily vicinity are preferred. Famous temples are often clustered together, especially in Bangkok and easy to reach but there exist also organized tours to famous temples far away in other provinces and just for this special merit making reason.
Although the name '9-Temples-in-one-day' suggests exactly that, the visiting period can be divided. Some visit all nine within 3 days distributed over several days or weeks. The lucky number 9 is important for Thais and has many meanings (like up, forward, successful, progress).
Important to note however is the period of Bun Kathin within October, exact days are depending on the Temple. Bun Kathin is only once per year and that is October. Bun means merit, translated from Sanskrit (Hinduism): punya (holy, sacret, pure good, saintly etc). The '9-Temples-in-one-day' merits meet nicely at this time.
Do you wonder how such a merit schedule could look alike? It can be any combination but here is a real example and in the order it ever has been done once in Bangkok:
- Day I: Wat Dan (Samrong) followed by Wat Nam Daeng (Bang Phli)
- Day II: Wat Thung Seti (Rama2)
- Day III (Onnut): Wat Tai, Wat Mahabut (Mae Nak Phra Khanong), Wat Yang (Phra Aram Luang), Wat Tong Nai 44, Wat Pak Bo, Wat Khachonsiri
All the temples located at Onnut Road can also be visited via a waterway, the Klong (Canal) called Saen Sap. One arm of it stretches from Phrakanong (first embarkment pier) to Srinakarin (end station) but the klong actually stretches far beyond. A beautiful 10-15 min sightseeing tour for those enjoying a few minutes of lush green tranquility. Any of the temples at Onnut Rd. (off Sukhumvit) can be visited by longtail boat.
For those interested in Thai Buddhism, there exist a few related and free studies covering their traditions. Perhaps a starting point are the following three publications worth to have a look at:
Buddhist Belief in Merit (Punña), Buddhist Religiousness and Life Satisfaction Among Thai Buddhists in Bangkok, Thailand -- PDF; 37p.
The Relocalization of Buddhism in Thailand -- PDF; 100p.
Thai Buddhism from a Legal Perspective -- PDF; 6p.
To compare nearby cultures, the following study and publication might be useful:
Merit-Making Activities and the Latent Ideal of the Buddhist Wat in Southwestern Cambodia -- PDF; 32p.
For those interested in Thai rituals and festivals, here is a short overview:
Thai Rituals and Festivals Connected with Buddhism
I hope you enjoyed this real-life article. Let me know 🙂
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