ASIA RELIGION AND RITES
8 imagesThe Dhammakaya Movement is a Buddhist movement founded in Thailand in the 1970s. It was founded by the Thai meditation master Phramongkolthepmuni (1885-1959). The movement is primarily represented today by its non-profit foundation, the Dhammakaya Foundation, and the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Pathum Thani Province, Thailand. This meditation school formally belongs to the ancient Maha Nikaya tradition of Thai Theravada Buddhism. Being correctly regarded as revivalist rather than a new movement or a fundamentalist movement. The Dhammakaya school of meditation is marked by its literal interpretation of Buddhist technical terms, in their physical meaning. The Dhammakaya Foundation has been subject to its share of controversy. Some years ago, leaders of the organization were accused of charges ranging from fraud and embezzlement to corruption. The Dhammakaya movement has been criticized for promoting greed by emphasizing donations to the temple as a way to make merit. Widespread negative media coverage a this time was symptomatic of the movement being made the scapegoat for commercial malpractice in the Thai Buddhist temple community in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. In 2006 The Thai National Office for Buddhism cleared the Dhammakaya Foundation and Phrarajbhavanavisudh of all accusations when Phrarajbhavanavisudh agreed to return all the allegedly embezzled funds to name of his temple. Phrarajbhavanavisudh was subsequently restored to the position of abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya. The Dhammakaya Movement continues to influence millions of people in Thailand and worldwide to practice Dhammakaya meditation. The movement has set up Dhammakaya Open University in Azusa, California in 2003 to offer degree courses in Buddhist studies. It has also encouraged Thais to quit drinking and smoking through the activities of Anti-Drinking and Anti-Smoking program. World Health Organization (WHO) presented the 2004 World No Tobacco Day Award for this work.
13 imagesGood Friday is a public holiday, commemorated with street processions, the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis), the commemoration of Jesus' Seven Last Words. In the province of Pampanga, the processions include devotees who self-flagellate and themselves nailed to crosses as expressions of penance in fulfillment of a vow, or in thanksgiving for a granted request. Such practice is rejected by the Catholic church.
12 imagesWat Bang Phra is a Buddhist temple in Nakhon Chai Si district, Nahom Pathom Provience, Thailand. Temple of some Monks or alternatively Temple of some Buddha Images in English. The temple is also known for the daily tattoos or Sak Yant given by the monks that live there, and especially for the tattoo festival held on the temple grounds once a year during March. Right before reaching the monk, the people next in line to the one being tattooed will assist the monk with holding the one receiving the tattoo still. The monk uses a single long thin needle. When complete, he blesses the tattoo and blows a sacred Kata (Ghata) on it to infuse it with power. For men, the monk uses the charcoal ink. For women he uses a transparent ink. Buddhists around the world but principally Thais come from all over to be tattooed by the temple's monks on their bodies. The religious tattoos are believed to be protection from ghost and bad spirits. Sak Yant is a form of tattooing practiced in Southeast Asian countries including Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. The practice has also began to grow in popularity among Chinese Buddhists in Singapore. All kind of people attend to ceremony including gangs members but in theory the tattoos shouldn't work for anyone who fails to lead his life according to the Buddha's precepts, which include nonviolence. Some people during the ceremony, fall into a deep trance and start crying, screaming, jumping and running.