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Baan Ta Klang Novice Ordination Procession on Elephant’s Back at Surin Province on April 27 to 29, 2018

in Festivals Calendar on 28/03/2018

Baan Ta Klang Novice Ordination Procession on Elephant’s Back at Surin Province on April 27 to 29, 2018

Baan Ta Klang village in Surin province is home to the legendary Kui elephant herders who are descendants of an ancient tribes people noted for their expertise in capturing, domesticating and training wild elephants in times past. It is also the largest elephant village in the Thai kingdom. The ancestors of the Kui (or Suay in Thai) are thought to have migrated from the Indian subcontinent to settle in an area near the Cambodian border that is today Thailand’s northeastern provinces. These handlers have great respect for their elephants. The life-long relationship of the mahout with his elephant is an integral element of Kui culture, tradition and the way of life. The elephant is his companion and a family member.

The Kui villagers of Baan Ta Klang continue to keep ancient tribal customs and traditions alive and have passed this knowledge on from generation to generation. Some of the fascinating aspects of ancient Kui culture can still be seen today such as in the practice of ancestor worship. This is reflected in the San Pa Kam propitiation ritual during which ancient Kui elders would pay homage to deities and ancestral guardian spirits and seek their spiritual guidance prior to leaving on a hunt. These rituals and ceremonies, including the wedding procession on elephant back, the mass ordination ceremony and the novice ordination procession on elephant back, are still being performed in accordance with ancient customs and traditions.

The novice ordination procession on elephant back is part of a mass ordination ceremony. It is a widely held folk belief that by taking part in a mass ordination, one earns much merit. This merit can also be transferred to loved ones or other individuals we care about. Hence it is customary for sons to enter ordination in order to make merit for their parents. The Kui believe that in order to gain fame or be bestowed with much merit, male members of the family should take part in a mass ordination ceremony that involves at least 1,000 novices riding on elephant back over long distances.

The Baan Ta Klang mass ordination ceremony and ordination procession on elephant back is typically held during the April 27 – 29, day of the waxing moon in the sixth month before the beginning of Buddhist Lent every year, this year on April 27 – 29. This is considered to be an auspicious time because by staging the mass ordination immediately prior to the Buddhist Lent, this enables newly-ordained novices to practice dhamma during the rain retreat. It is believed that in this way, much merit will be earned by the individual for his family. The Buddhist Lent known as Khao Pansa coincides with the rainy season and is a time devoted to the study of Buddhist scriptures and the teachings of the Lord Buddha, and meditation. Buddhist monks remain within the temple grounds and do not venture out for a period of three months starting from the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month (in July) to the fifteenth day of the waxing moon of the eleventh lunar month (in October).

The annual Baan Ta Klang mass ordination procession features over 100 novices dressed in elaborate costumes consisting of a silk sarong and white top with a colourful ceremonial cloth wrapped around the shoulder. Each rides on the back of an elaborately-adorned elephant as the procession makes its way from the Baan Ta Klang Elephant Study Centre to Wang Talu, a site where the Chi River converges with the Mun River. The mass ordination ceremony is performed at Don Buat, an island in the middle of the river. These fascinating aspects of Kui culture form the basis for developing the ecotourism potential of Baan Ta Klang elephant village in the Tha Tum District (Amphoe Tha Tum) of Surin Province, home to over 1,000 domesticated elephants and the site of the world-famous elephant round-up.

For more information, contact TAT Surin Office at 0-4451-4447-8, or TAT Call Center at 1672.

Photo Credit : องค์การบริหารส่วนจังหวัดสุรินทร์

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