Awk Phansa marks the end of the three-month Buddhist Lent period and the traditional end of the rainy season. The final day of the Buddhist Lent period falls on the full-moon day of the eleventh lunar moon and is known in most parts of Thailand as Awk Phansa, although there are some regional variations. According to Buddhist belief, the day commemorates when Buddha descended back to earth after spending three months in heaven where he had visited his mother. His return was greeted by his followers with gifts of food and today Thai Buddhists mark the event by visiting the wat and making merit. My thanks to this site for that information – Tony

With the end of Buddhist Lent monks across Thailand were being formally fed at their wats. We called into our local forest wat a short distance from the family farm while Yuan and Bear supported the village temple located in the opposite direction. I always love these occasions because they are small, intimate and many of the faces are familiar. I am (almost) included as a fellow villager.

The end of Buddhist Lent is more formally celebrated over the next three weeks with each temple having a large gathering where the monks are once again fed and money raised. You will often see large numbers of monks at these occasions as they are timed to allow the monks from several wats to travel to each other’s festivals.

I have covered this celebration every year so I hope I am not boring you with repeats. I pick up new readers as we go along and the photos capture new moments each time.

Good progress has been made on this forest wat. I have great hopes it is going to end up like Gaun – small but perfect 🙂 Huge new uprights have replaced some that weren’t up to standard and a further portico roof added to this side.

This is from the formal entrance side.

In rather stark contrast this is the toilet block. Super modern.

What timbers. The motorbikes give a size comparison.

I wish I had a fraction of the timber that goes into these forest wat construction. All beautiful hardwood.

This is the original Buddha ‘hall’ – in reality just a simple covered area. The monks’ begging bowls are open for business and villagers start to fill them with sticky rice and other small contributions.

Gaun doing her bit.

Villagers (and one farang) lined up to donate food formally. The ‘real’ meal is presented later once the blessing has been completed.

Earning Buddhist merit points and happy about it.

This is Dit, the abbot, and a very young child giving him some food. The villagers were laughing because you are only supposed to bow three times to a monk and this kid got up to four before his dad stepped in.

No tourist buses and no other farang.

This is as genuine as it gets. Everyday Isan people going about their normal routines. I can’t tell you how enjoyable it is to be involved in this sort of activity as opposed to the set pieces that most tourists experience and then go home saying they have seen Thailand! I am privileged indeed and recognise it everyday.

This is the main meal now being offered to the monks.

Huge quantities of food, far more than needed, but the excess is then available for the participants after. The food is served left to right with the most senior monks having the first choice and the juniors whatever is left over (not that they miss out on much with these quantities).

The food is rolled around on small trolleys.

The monks haven’t eaten since yesterday morning, which explains the focussed concentration. You can almost feel the anticipation of getting stuck in can’t you.

I am sure Dit has built his following based on that smile. Once the monks have completed selecting food they place a towel over their begging bowls. Once all monks have done this the formal pre-eating blessing is given.

Many of these ceremonies involved pouring water into a bowl while blessings are chanted. Once finished the water is returned to the earth usually by an offering to a plant. Gaun here.

With food all served to the monks the leftovers are made available to the villagers. Gaun is only there for the photo moment.

These ladies wanted me to take their photo, and I was happy to oblige. All people I know from the village. The lady second on the left is Dit’s mama and she gave him the land this temple stands on.

One of the entrances to the wat. Most of these plants are Gaun’s contributions to the temple planted by others. I never thought that hedge would make it as it was comprised of tiny cuttings from trimming work Gaun had done at our place. A testament to this Isan soil,

We called into the family home after and this pickup was quickly stopped as it passed advertising these bamboo bundles. Any guesses as to what they used for this time of year? 1,000 strips for 100 baht ($4.00),

We are about to start rice harvest (I like the way I automatically typed the ‘we’) and these are used to tie the bundles of rice together before they are threshed to separate rice from stalks.

Because they are a natural product the rice bundles don’t have to be untied before going into the threshing machine. We bought a bundle, not for the harvest, but because the strips are used to tie reed roofing onto bamboo salas (huts) and I want my boat’s roof to be upgraded even though it won’t be floated until sometime next decade!

Yuan was fully aware of the funny situation of her up on the pickup doing farming things while in her best gear 🙂

The world’s scruffiest dog had obviously been up early and was catching a bit of shut-eye while mama looked on.

They could be twins these two sisters Yuan and Gaun, not for looks but because they are so close. Absolutely best mates.

Thank you for reading.

Tony