Jan 31, 2014

Wat Walking

On Christmas Day, we went on a wat walk. 95% of Thailand is Buddhist, and there are over 300 temples, called wats, in Chiang Mai alone. Anyone is free to walk through the grounds, take off their shoes to enter the relic halls, and pray under the golden Buddha statues. Monks in their orange-dyed robes walk around the temples, and their laundry hung on the rails of their dorms, drying in the warm breeze.

Wat architecture is detailed and beautiful, rich with symbolic imagery. They often had colored glass covering their sculptures that reflected in the light. Some of the brick stupas, a place where relics of the Buddha are buried, were still standing after hundreds of years.

These snake-like creatures are called nagas and they are protectors.

An ancient stupa.

Old and New, side by side.

Just outside one wat was a Western Union truck. A truck! Why?

Some women at the entrance to a wat sold birds in cages to release for "good luck." At another wat, the monks posted signs warning people not to do this because it was harassing the animals. Other wats warned against any "money changers" on the temple grounds.

Inside a relics hall, the story of the Buddha was told through colorful paintings. The image on the right is the birth of Buddha when his mother held on to the tree. You follow his story until you come back to the left image, when he reclines on his right side to enter Nirvana.


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