Making Merit – New Year in Thailand

On January 1st, Thais in every part of the country offer food to monks at temples or public places to give themselves a good start for the year. These New-Year ceremonies pay homage to Buddha. The tradition is that the New Year is seen as a time to establish a new chapter in one’s “karma ledger“.

We rose early on New Year’s Day and joined a local community’s ritual in the Northern suburbs of Bangkok.

Tables were set up along the street and the offerings placed on them.

There were also balloons for luck available for sale.

The procession was led by the head of the local temple who sprinkled blessed water over the crowds.

As the monks came slowly up the street in cars (lent by the temple committee, local politicians and businesses), or on foot, they received food, candles, flowers and incense.

Cash donations to the temple were also part of the ceremonial offerings.

Some people will perform volunteer work at the temple in order to make merit at New Year.

Thais believe the accumulation of merit is believed to exert a powerful influence on one’s current and future lives.

Earned merit can also be transferred to other individuals by requested when donating or privately declared during the merit-making acts.

How did you celebrate the start of the New Year?

What local customs have you been involved with on your journeys?

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