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The Faith In The Buddhism Of Lanna Thai

May 28, 2008
The faith in the Buddhism of Lanna is so vital that it has been maintained since many long centuries ago. Its lasting effects have added to the golden luster of the Dharma and to the brilliant flourish of Buddhism that still exists today. These are reflected in the Lanna people's way of life and their charmingly specific architecture. One of the beliefs of the Lanna people, which is perhaps most dominant and distinct, is "Chuthat" or to "Worship at the Pagoda(Phrathat in Thai) of one's birth sign according to the year of Lanna animal symbol." This sort of Pagoda worship relates to the 12 Lanna animal signs.

Namely, the Lanna people believe that all Buddhists should make a pilgrimage to the Pagoda of their birth-year animal sign at least once in their life. It is for prosperity, luck, protection from the dangers of Karma, and for relaxation of the mind as well as being of the highest merit. They also believe that whenever one dies, the soul will go and stay at the Pagoda of their birth sign. Each of the 12 chosen Pagodas has a relic of the Buddha deposited inside as well.

Wat Phrathat Sri Chomthong

Chomthong, Chiang Mai

Jai (Rat)

This is small Pagoda but its beauty is incomparable size. History has not recorded the details about the date of construction, but it is believed to be around 500 years old. Phrathat Sri Chomthong is different from other Pagoda because its Buddha relics didn't stay interned in the pagoda. Relics such as the right cranium of Buddha are contained in a glass cinerary. The urn is placed in the Ku (a unique feature of Lanna architecture, similar to a pagoda) inside the temple.

Birth Year: 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924, 1912

Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang

Kho Kha, Lampang

Pao (Ox)

Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang is a royal temple from the past. It is located on an eminence and took around 100 years tot build. The Pagoda is made of brick and is coated with Jungko sheets (brass and copper plates) with a decorative design. The tiered umbrella on top is made of gold. This holy temple enshrines many Buddha relics, including a portion of the hair of the Great Preacher. By the genius of ancient artisans we can see the Pagoda image reflected on the wall on a sunny day. This phenomenon is caused by the light's refraction inside the corner of the temple, which covers a model of the Buddha's footprint. Moreover, Phra Kaeo Moragot, the most sacred Buddha image of the Lampang people is enshrined here as well.

Birth Year: 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925, 1913

Wat Phrthat Chohae

Muang, Phare

Yee (Tiger)

The most ancient and historical Buddhist site in Phrae is located on Khun Ai Kim Mountain. It was built during the reign of King Phraya Lithai, in the Sukhothai period, or around the 19th Buddhist century. The Pagoda is gilded with thong doke tuop (flower gold, soft yellow) and has the style of a square base with in dented corners. This is also known as Chiang Saen style. The Pagoda contains a relic of the hair of Buddha. The name of the Pagoda is from villagers who brought quality silk (phrae) from Xishuangbanna to tie around the Pagoda for holiness. Then, the name of Cho-Phrae was born and slightly distorted to be Chohae in the present. Inside the temple there is also a Phrchao Thanjai, the most sacred Buddha image of the Phrae people.

Birth Year: 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926, 1914

Wat Phrathat Chae Haeng

Muang, Nan

Mao (Rabbit)

Not far from the Nan River, there is an ancient Pagoda that is around 600 years old. It was constructed in 1353, during the reign of Phaya Karn Muang, the Prince of Nan. It was constructed for the purpose of containing seven Buddha relics and a gold and silver votive tablet. These treasures were given to the Prince of Nan as a gift from the Sukhothai Kingdom. Take a moment to pause and behold Pagoda Chae Haeng. The long Naga stairs lead towards the Pagoda which is on an overlapping square base gilded with brass sheets and covered with gold foil. There is a nine-tierd stately umbrella on top of the Pagoda. This style is smilar to Phrathat Hairphunchai. Although time has passed Nan villagers are still ever faithful in Phrathat Chae Haeng.

Birth Year: 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927, 1915

Wat Phra Singh Woramahaviharn

Muang, Chiang Mai

See (Naga)

The old name is Wat Li Chiang Phra and it is located inside the moat area of central Chiang Mai City. This temple was constructed during the reign of Phaya Phayu in 1345 to hold the ashes of his father, King Phaya Khamfu. The white Pagoda is of a square base, and rise in a circular Lanna style with stucco elephants around the base. In 1817, Phaya Thamma Langa, a younger brother of Phrachao Kavila, the Prince of Chiang Mai restored the temple and also the Pagoda. He transferred a Buddha's relic inside the padoga a year later. Inside the Lai Kham vihara there is enshrined the Phra Buddha Sihingh or Phra Singh (in subduing Mara style). This is the most sacred image of Chiang Mai. Moreover, the graceful mural paintings tell the motion of Lanna people's life in the past as if it were the same today.

When the Songkran Festival arrives, the Phra Singn temple will launch a procession around the city of Chiang Mai for sprinkling life preserving holy-water.

Birth Year: 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928, 1916

Pharasri Maha Bho Buddhakaya


Sai (Snake)

At this place exactly 2,591 years ago, the Buddha became enlightened under the Bho tree at Buddhakaya at the age of 35. It was at this monument that Buddhism began. Buddhakaya is situated west of the Naranchara River, in the Phihan district of northern India. Erected during the reign of King Asokmaharaj, the square Indian style pagoda figure is made. This is one of the most ancient pagodas in India and was greatly influenced by Indian architecture over the centuries. If you cannot make a pilgrimage to India, you can worship under any Bho tree instead. This is due to the belief that all Bho trees in Lanna are originally from India. You could also go to Wat Jet Yot in Chiang Mai as well.

Birth Year: 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929, 1917

Pagoda Shwedagon or Phrathat Takong


Sa-Nga (Horse)

This large golden Pagoda glitters in the sunlight and surrounded with small pagodas on Singkutara hill. This place is the hub of faith for the Burmese. The Pagoda is covered with the 8,688 bullions of gold and the top is decorated with 5,448 diamonds, 2,317 rubies, sapphires and topaz, and an enormous emerald in the center of it all! In former times, all good kings would give ample amounts of real gold to the temple for making gold sheets. These golden sheets were then used for covering the Pagoda, as was the ancient tradition and remains so today. Inside the Pagoda were deposited eight pieces of the Buddha's hair. With all this care over the centuries, don't be surprised at the elegance of Pagoda Shwedagon. Visitors are welcome from dawn until night.

Before entering the temple area, take off yours shoes and socks even though the ground will be hot. This is the Burmese people's way of paying respect to the Phrathaht.

Birth Year: 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930, 1918

Phrathat Doi Suthep

Muang, Chiang Mai

Med (Goat)

The Large temple located on the mountain surrounded by green forest where gods protect the city at all times. That's right! This is Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. Whoever visits Chiang Mai should pay homage to this temple at least once. Phrathat Doi Suthep was built during the reign of King Kue Na of the Mengrai Dynasty in 1371. The Pagoda is of Lanna style and is entirely glided with Jungko sheets. Around 290 steps armed with Nagas take you up to the Pagoda. From here, we can view the sparkling Pagoda clearly by day or by its light at night.

The night before Visakha Puja Day there is a traditional pilgrimage walk up to Phrathat Doi Suthep, including a wain tian (holds a candle stick and walks around the pagoda) in the dark and the making of merit on the morning of the next day.

Birth Year: 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931, 1919

Phrathat Phanom

Nakorn Phanom

San (Monkey)

If we ask, which Pagoda is mindful of both Thais and Laotians? It is should be Phrathat Phanom. Situated on the Mekong River side in the northeastern region of Thailand, Pagoda appears as a white square figure made of bricks. Its style is distinctly different from the Lanna style. The white Pagoda is decorated with a golden design, gilled with gold and embellished with beautiful gems. According to legend, Phrathat Phanom was erected at least 2,300 years ago and the interior is said to contain part of the Buddha breastbone and other Buddhist valuables.

Birth Year: 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932, 1920

Phrathat Hariphunchai

Muang Lamphun

Lao (Rooster)

This is a large temple built during the reign of Phrachao Athitaraj

to deposit the Buddha's relics, which were placed in a golden cinerary. The gilded Pagoda is covered from base to top with Jungko sheets. This was done in true Lanna and included a giant building with four massive stately umbrellas at each corner. Later during the reign of Phrachao Tilok Maharaja in 1443 the structure of the Pagoda was restored and changed to be of modern Lanna style as seen today.

Around Visakha Puja Day, Wat Phrathat Hariphunchai holds a ceremony to pay Homage to the Buddha relics.

Birth Year: 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945, 1933, 1921

Phrathat Inta Khwan or Kyaiktiyo

Kyaikto, Myanmar

Sed (Dog)

I believe that nobody has yet been able to personally worship at this temple, Phrathat Ket Kaeo Chulamani, as it resides in Taowatingsa. Heaven, where the abode of Indra remains eternal. Well, what sort of piece of Earth could be nearly as beautiful as heaven? The answer to this question is Phrathat Inta Khwan. Although it is a far distance off in Myanmar and difficult to reach, if you arrived there you would be amazed and fascinated. There is a huge golden stone is a small golden Pagoda only high 5.5 m. high, in which is deposited some of the Lord Buddha's hair. It is indeed incredible that this gigantic stone has remained standing alone at the edge of a cliff like this for such as a long lonely time. According to legend, the Pagoda is more than a thousand years old and was built in the 11th Buddhist century. If you can't make the pilgrimage here, you could always worship at the Pagoda of Wat Ketkaram, in Chiang Mai instead.

This temple is open all night and only allows the covering of the Pagoda with gold leaf. Everyone must remove all footwear before entering the temple area.

Birth Year: 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934, 1922

Phrathat Doi Tung

Mae Fah Luang, Chiang Rai

Gai (Elephant)

Phrathat Doi Tung is the oldest Pagoda in the Lanna Kingdom and is highly sacred to the people of Thailand, Burma and Laos Erected in 911 during the reign of Phracho Achutaraj, King of the Yonok Region, Phrathat Doi Tung was established on Doi Tung Mountain and is said to contain part of the Buddha's left clavicle. Later, during the reign of Phracho Mengrai Noraraj, A son of Phracho Achutaraj, some monks brought 50 Buddha relics to present to him. Thus, he erected one more Pagoda to contain the 50 relics, side by side as twins.

Don't forget to visit the Mae Fah Luang Royal Villa, the first residence of Her Royal Highness Princess Srinakarindra, Mother of King Bhumibol. It's not far from here.

Birth Year: 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935, 1923
About the Author
Francisco Faulkner is the professional freelance writer. He's also the webmaster of Getthaitrip.com
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