Sri Lankan Buddhist culture / Thai Buddhist culture. Differences?

Bodhi tree worship is actually quite a big thing in the village Buddhism of Northern Thailand. In April there’s a day called Wan Phayawan where villagers carry out the “Bodhi tree crutches procession ceremony” (phithii hae mai kham pho, พิธีแห่ไม้ค้ำโพธิ์). This entails their marching in procession to the local wat carrying decorated forked poles. When they reach the wat’s Bodhi tree the poles are placed under the tree’s larger branches to symbolically prop them up. It’s believed that these branches would otherwise need to be supported by rukkha-devatās. By offering the poles the villagers accumulate merit by lightening the devatās’ burden.

At least that’s one explanation of the the ceremony. Of course there are lots of others, including this extraordinarily long-winded one about how the ceremony first began in Chiang Mai’s Chom Thong District.

(in Thai)




Great list of things, venerable!

Sri Lankans will use amulets, but they aren’t all necessarily Buddhist in nature. And they don’t look anything like the Thai kind.

That reminded me that in the Sri Lankan Maha Pirit, the heavenly realms in the Dhammacakkhapavattana Sutta are all enumerated. This is non canonical, and only found in the Pirit Book.

To clarify, I believe this is only the practice when someone has been living as a samanera. I was told that the purpose was to give the candidates the chance to “make a fresh start” in the holy life. And it’s just for the time right before the ceremony.

For those unaware, the Solasamastana are sixteen ancient holy places in Sri Lanka. Some are well known, like the Shri Maha Bodhi Tree in Anuradhapura and some are obscure. Several are places Sri Lankans believe the Buddha visited on his three trips to Sri Lanka (which are not EBT). But they are all in Sri Lanka.


Are the supports removed after some time or are they left there? :pray:

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It’s a bit of both. The props that are serving a merely ornamental purpose will stay up for a year and then be replaced at the next Wan Phayawan. The old props will then be used to make fences, washing lines, etc. But the props that are actually needed to hold up a heavy branch on an aging tree will stay in place for as long as they’re capable of doing the job, i.e., until the termites get to them.