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The Royal Ploughing Ceremony .:. วันพืชมงคล

... takes place during the 6th lunar month ...

The annual Ploughing Ceremony is held during the sixth lunar month (i.e. May) at Sanam Luang (the Phramane Ground) in front of the Grand Palace. The event, which heralds the beginning of the official rice-planting season, is presided over by His Majesty the King, with much pomp and splendour. (In the year 2009 it was presided by HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn)

The Ploughing Ceremony is of Brahman origin and it may be traced back to the Sukhothai era (1257-1350 AD). The auspicious day and time are to be set by the Royal Brahman astrologers.

During this colourful ceremony, the amount of rainfall to be expected in the coming season is forecasted.

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony .:. วันพืชมงคล

His Majesty the King appoints a Lord of the Festival (Phya Raek Nah) to carry out the rites. These may be divided into three parts :

❶ The Phya Raek Nah chooses from three 'Pa Nungs' (Sarong). If he chooses the longest one, there will be little rain during the year to come. The shortest cloth means plenty of rain, whilst the medium-length Pa Nung denotes average rainfall, it suggests harmony in nature, perfect conditions for a bumper harvest. (When choosing, they of course look all identical)

❷ A procession follows with sacred bulls, festooned in flowers, pulling a red and golden plough. Drummers, Brahmans chanting and blowing conch shells, umbrella bearers and four 'Nang Thepi' (or consecrated women) carrying gold and silver baskets filled with rice seed, proceed with the plough. The Phya Raek Nah carefully ploughs three circular furrows whilst sprinkling the rice seeds in the furrows. Farmers believe that mixing them with seeds bought from the market will guarantee a good harvest.

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony .:. วันพืชมงคล

Once the ceremony is over, hundreds of people will rush to the spot in the hope of gathering some of the precious rice grains to ensure a good crop of rice in the next season.

❸ Once the bulls have ploughed three ceremonial furrows in an oval shape, they are presented seven different food and drinks in a bowl :

• grass    • rice    • maize    • sesame seed    • soy beans    • water    • rice whiskey

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony .:. วันพืชมงคล

Whatever the bulls choose to eat or drink should be plentiful during the coming year.

• If the Sacred bulls eat paddy or maize .:. harvests and food produce will be abundant
• If they eat green bean or sesame .:. food will be abundant available everywhere
• If they drink water or eat grass, water will be abundant and food supply will be rich
• If they drink the liquor, transportation will be convenient and commerce with foreign countries will be prosperous

If they do not eat or drink it will be disastrous, so they may be on diet prior this event.

Festivities were held to boost the farmers' morale urging them to strive for an abundant harvest and encouraging them to engage in rice cultivation on a significant scale not just for local consumption but also to maintain sufficient reserves for times of war and for export overseas.

Since 1966, the Cabinet declared Ploughing Ceremony day as the Annual Agriculturists Day. This is to make agriculturists aware of the importance of agriculture and to remind them to take part in the ceremony to bring about good luck and wealth for themselves and the country as a whole.

Since then, the Agriculturists Day has been observed together with the Rice Grains Blessing and Ploughing Ceremony. Today, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony consists of two ceremonies - a Cultivating Ceremony known as "Phraraj Pithi Peuj Mongkol" and the Ploughing Ceremony, "Phraraj Pithi Jarod Phranangkal Raek Na Kwan". Both royal ceremonies are state events with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives assuming the role of the Lord of the Harvest or Phraya Raek Na, while four single female officials of the Ministry holding positions of second rank and above in the civil service undertake the role of the Celestial Maidens or Nang Thepi, assistants to the Lord of the Harvest.

The Cultivating Ceremony is a Buddhist ritual performed one day before the Ploughing Ceremony. Paddy and the seeds of forty other crops and ceremonial items to be used in the Ploughing Ceremony are blessed. His Majesty the King (or a representative) presides over the religious rites which are performed in the Royal Chapel of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha within the compounds of the Grand Palace. With lustral water poured over his hands and his forehead anointed by His Majesty the King, the Lord of the Harvest receives the royal blessing. The four Celestial Maidens also receive similar blessing. The Lord of the Harvest then receives the ceremonial ring and sword to be used in the Ploughing Ceremony from His Majesty the King.

Information provided by TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand)

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