Sacred oxen predict bountiful crops

13 May 2013

At this morning’s Royal Ploughing Ceremony, two sacred oxen chose maize and grass which tradition dictates that the forthcoming crop-growing season will be prolific. The annual ceremony is staged at Sanam Luang Park in central Bangkok and many Thais believe it gives an accurate prediction of the fortunes of their homeland.    

Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and his consort Princess Srirasmi as well as senior government figures including prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra were joined by a large crowd for a ceremony which originated at least 700 years ago. This year’s Lord of the Plough (Phraya Raek Na) was Chawalit Chukhachorn and he led the pair of oxen as they ploughed a symbolic furrow.

The beasts were then offered a selection of seven dishes containing liquor, water, soy beans, sesame seeds, maize, grass and paddy seeds. Brahmin attendants say the oxen’s choice of maize and grass means that the harvest will be abundant, rainfall will adequate and there will also be plenty of food for Thais.  

As a part of the rite, Phraya Raek Na had to select one of three lengths of folded cloth which also impacted on the Brahmins’ predictions. Rice seeds were scattered in the furrow created by the oxen and, after the ceremony was over, people in the crowd hastened to pick them up.

In ancient times, farmers claimed the seeds would give them an auspicious boost when they started planting their rice. The 1Stop guide to Bangkok’s festivals lists and gives details about the main ones celebrated in the city.

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