Saturday, September 29, 2012

Ganesh Festival in Nakorn Nayok

Women line up to make offerings to the Hindu deity Ganesha at Wat Utthayan Ganesh in Nakorn Nayok, Thailand, during the Ganesh festival at the Temple

Thai Buddhism incorporates several elements of Hindu worship, including reverence for Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati. He is known as the remover of obstacles and one of the most popular deities in the Hindu world. He's also worshipped in other religions originating on the Indian sub-continent including Jainism and Buddhism. Ganesha's iconography - the elephant head - makes him easy to identify even for people who aren't familiar with Hindu deities. 

The Ganesh festival celebrates Lord Ganesha's rebirth. It's a very happy holiday. 

In Thailand the festival is a bewildering blend of Thai Buddhist traditions, Indian Hindu rites and Chinese traditions, including the Lion dance, a distinctly Chinese tradition popular in Chinese emigrant communities around the world. 

In Nakorn Nayok the Ganesha festival ended with a mass making of offerings to Ganesha. People were singing and dancing and some appeared to go into a trance like state. The end of the festival was almost like an altar call at an evangelical revival in the United States. Even though the two are from distinctly different traditions there were definite similarities.