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DHARMA COUNTDOWN

Buddhists seeking a more spiritual way of ringing in the New Year come to pray together at Wat Saket

Story by and photos by SAROT MEKSOPHAWANNAKUL, Bangkok Post, Saturday, January 5, 2008

Participants in the Dharma Countdown pray outside the ordination hall at Wat Saket shortly before the New Year. Rows of monks deliver a sermon to honour Their Majesties the King and Queen and to welcome the New Year inside the ordination hall at Wat Saket.
People make their way up the steps to Phu Khao Thong, the Golden Mount, to make merit. Participants in the Dharma Countdown ring the bells around Phu Khao Thong after a walk around the stupa at Wat Saket on New Year's Eve.

The Dharma Countdown at the top of Phu Khao Thong (Golden Mount) at Wat Saket is a time for quiet reflection, and is a stark contrast to the often raucous celebrations that greet the arrival of the New Year.

At the temple, the countdown to 2008 was shrouded by an aura of calm as participants led by monks holding lit candles ascended Phu Khao Thong.

There, in a gesture of reverence, they walked holding flowers and lit joss-sticks three times around the golden stupa which enshrines the Lord Buddha's relics.

The participants later made their way down to the ordination hall of Wat Saket where they spread out and sat down in an orderly manner.

The relics had been transferred to the hall and the participants began a solemn prayer for Their Majesties the King and Queen. It was also time to look back on the happiness as well as the trials and tribulations they had endured over the past year.

People of all ages meditate during the event.

The mass prayers were led by Phra Buddha Chan, representing His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch. Ten minutes before the stroke of midnight, the prayers stopped for a countdown meditation.

The New Year was then heralded in by a tolling of the bell, followed by monks chanting auspicious sermons with holy water sprinkled all around the participants.

Small portions of the water and paa yan cloths were given away as New Year gifts to participants who went home feeling blessed at the start of the Year of the Rat.

source: http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/05Jan2008_news91.php

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Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa.
Buddha sāsana.m cira.m ti.t.thatu.