In Phangna another temple is being opened. I've covered this ceremony before, the stone balls, gilded by gold leaf, suspended with sticks. The sticks are cut with ceremonial knifes, dropping the balls into the holes surrounding the temple. For this new temple, I'm doing different ceremonies, the gilding of the balls, and the raising of the gold swan. The actual ball drop isn't till Sunday, if you're near Phangna, there's still time to attend!
Wat Maneesee Mahahtad is worth a visit on normal days, it has a huge statue of an old revered monk, and a wax works of popular old monks to see. They're eerily life like too, you feel sort of scared to get the camera close to their faces in case the turn around and complain!
There's also a newer temple buildings, being built. If you look at the roof of Thai temples, you'll see what we call a golden swan, the pointing center of each arch. These have deep symbolism that's yawn-worthy, but then everything in a temple does, even the trees represent the tree Buddha's mother hung on to. It's enough to know they're a religious symbol, and raising one onto the roof of a temple is a religious ritual.
Being involved in opening a new or refurbished temple is a life long ambition for most people. It's good to do 9 of them in your lifetime. This is my third. For this one I decided I'd make a money chain, the ribbon of money used to donate and decorate the temple party, thus encouraging more people to donate money to the temple.
It turns out these chains of money are just stapled together. I had imagined they'd be some clever clip or temporary glue onto a ribbon, but no, staples. When they're taken down, each individual staple, one by one, is taken out so the money can be spent.
In one of the annexes, there's a gong that perfectly resonates with the room. Turn up the subwoofer when watching the video, it won't really capture the bone shaking volume of this gong, but it gives you a feel for it. Lucky the temple is far from the nearest village! (If you want really deep bone shaking gongs, I'd recommend the bell temple by the sea near Bangkok).
The swan ceremony is at night, 9 minutes past 7pm. Odd numbers for more yawn inducing symbology. They'll hawl the swan up on a rope pulley to the top, while people hold up donations branches, make their wish, and we'll all stick the branches into a trunk to make a money tree. Who says money doesn't grow on trees!
The ball drop ceremony is on Sunday afternoon, 31st March 2013, at 15:39, and the temple dedication is on every day until then.
View Phuket in a larger map