Tak Bat Devo

Thailand
22 October 2021

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Tak Bat Devo

Tak Bat Devo, is an almsgiving tradition originating in central Thailand. The term itself derived from Pali’s “Devorohana,” meaning Buddha’s descent from the celestial world. This year, the event will take place on October 22nd, marking the end of the Vassa (also known as the Buddhist Rains Retreat or Buddhist Lent).

Buddhist lore

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Similar to the likes of Lai Ruea Fai and Wax Castle Festival, the event celebrates Gautama Buddha’s return from Trayastrimsa heaven. According to Buddhist lore, he wished to repay Queen Mahamaya, his mother, after attaining enlightenment, though she had already passed away seven days after he was born.

Buddha ascended to Trayastrimsa heaven, believing that only Abhidhamma, or profound truth, would suffice for the incomparable debt owed to his mother. His teachings over the next three months would comprise the canonical texts known as the Abhidhamma Pitaka.

On the last day, Buddha descended from Trayastrimsa heaven to the city of Sangkassa, where he was greeted by thousands of people who had prepared a banquet for him and his disciples. The banquet originated the tradition of Buddhist faithful offering food to Buddhist monks, in homage to Buddha’s return.

Traditional reenactment

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At certain temples, the imitation of the actual event is taken further. High places such as a hill, are used as the starting point of the event. Locals are required to sit or stand on either side of the walkway from the temple pavilion. Monks will then walk along the path to receive alms, with a standing Buddha statue on a convoy leading the line. At the end of the offerings, the monks will recite dharma to purify the mind, and pour water to dedicate the merits to relatives who passed away.

Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri, a temple in Uthai Thani, is among those that reenact the legend. Regarded as the biggest Tak Bat Devo event, hundreds of monks descend the 449-step staircase from the stupa, creating a truly magnificent sight. At the start of the event, little girls in traditional Thai dresses can be seen welcoming the monk, playing the role of the angels that led Buddha back to Earth.

COVID-19 Disclaimer: The activities described here may be suspended due to movement and gathering restrictions as prescribed by COVID-19 health precautions.

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