Thai palace revives ancient royal ceremony

25 Jul 2011

A historic royal rite has been revived and opened to the general public at a palace situated in a Gulf of Thailand seaside resort. Mrigadayavan Palace in Cha-am, north of Samui, was recently the venue for an annual ceremony designed to appease and honour protecting deities and spirits in the royal compound.

Food, fruits, sweets, colourful flowers and ornate banana leaf creations are placed on a table in the garden while participants chant vows of homage to the gods.

Ceremony attendants then tie small gold and silver coloured bags to the trunks of ancient banyan, bhodi and tamarind trees in the palace grounds. The gold bags are called Thai thong and the silver Thai ngern, and are meant to symbolise penance.

The rites were originally held in the Samoson Sewakamat Pavilion at the palace. In olden times, only female palace courtiers took part in the ceremony, but following a ruling by the Crown Property Bureau four years ago the rite was revived and members of the public included in it for the first time.

The ceremony traditionally took place one week before the beginning of Buddhist Lent, Khao Pansa, which also marked the onset of the monsoon season rains. Although the ritual had been discontinued it was re-introduced at the urging of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who was concerned that old traditions and heritage were being lost in the modern age.

Mrigadayavan Palace was the summer residence of Thai King Rama VI and is now a much visited tourist site.

Tags: Thai palace ceremony

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