TAMIL BRAHMINS IN THAILAND (Post No.5004)

Written by London Swaminathan 

 

Date: 12 May 2018

 

Time uploaded in London – 13-0 (British Summer Time)

 

Post No. 5004

 

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.

 

 

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Satya Vrat Shastri of Delhi University gives very interesting details of Tamil Brahmins settled in Thailand, probably 1000 years ago. They still recite the famous Tiruppavai of Andal and Tiruvempavai of Manikka vasagar, the Tamil saints who lived 1500 years ago. Though the Brahmins  speak only Thai language now, they still do the Tamil poems. Buddhism is the main religion of Thailand now; but Hinduism and Sanskrit are at all levels of the society.

 

Now I give below some facts about the Brahmins in Thailand from Shastri’s book ‘Sanskrit and Indian culture in Thailand’:-

Thailand Rajaguru with Kanchi Shankaracharya

Rajaguru

Not everyone born in a Brahmin family is called a Brahmin. Those who are initiated i.e. those who have Diksha are called  Brahmins.

Raja guru gives the initiation and he is selected from among the Brahmins. Next to him is Huana Phram. They get a very meagre grant from the king.

 

Annual Worship

It is of two kinds. One is Triyampavaaya and another is Tripavaaya (The first is Thiruvempavai on Lord Shiva and the second Thiruppaavai is on Lord Vishnu; both are popular in Tamil Nadu)

 

Tiruvempavai is celebrated in three stages: Invoking the god, placing the idol in the swing and the third is bathing the idol. Prasad offered to the deities is distributed to the public. An annual festival is held in December. At the time those who want initiation takes a vow. They stay inside the temple, eat vegetarian food and lie on the floor.

During Tiruvempava festival, they worship Ganesh, Uma and Shiva for ten days.

 

Tamil Brahmins wear only white clothes head to foot. Some wear dhotis.

During the Swing ceremony Lord Siva is placed in between two pillars with a cup of water. There is a story behind it. Brahma who created the world asked Isvara (Shiva) to protect it. Siva thought that the earth was not strong enough to support the living beings. To test its strength, he just set one of His feet on it. He then asked the Nagas to shake the mountain at the ends of the oceans. The Nagas did shake it but nothing untoward happened. Siva was pleased. Here the two pillars stand for the two mountains and the cup of water represents the ocean.

 

Tiruppavai in praise of Lord Vishnu is also celebrated in the similar way. People wear new clothes and decorate their houses during the festival period. In Tamil Nadu it is celebrated for 30 days during the Tamil month Markazi corresponding to December/ January.

 

THE PLOUGHING RITE

The Ploughing rite is an ancient Hindu rite practised from the  Vedic days. Tamil literature also has references to this rite. Sita Devi was discovered and received by Emperor Janaka during such a rite. Brahmins play a main role in it.

Brahmins fix a date after consulting the almanac (Panchang). They do the Puja after the Buddhists start it in the Temple of Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Keao). The king comes at the appointed time and he sends his deputy to act on his behalf. The priest worships Gauri, Ganga and Dharani (earth). Brahmins sprinkle water with the grains. Auspicious things are carried by the women. Bulls are also brought with the plough. The king’s nominee does the symbolic ploughing after worshipping the bulls. When all the ploughing finished, the bulls are sent to its place. In front of them seven things are placed: Paddy, Pulses, Corn, Sesame seeds, Water, Wine and Grass. When they show them to the bulls, naturally they run towards them ; the priests watch what they eat first.

If the bulls eat the corn or paddy or the pulses first, it is believed that the crops would be good the year round. If they eat grass or sesame seeds first, it is said that the crops (harvest) world be moderate. If, however, the bulls take to water first, the belief is that there would be floods and the crops would be damaged. If by chance, the bulls take to wine the belief is that drought conditions would prevail leading o unrest everywhere. After the announcement of the future position of the crops, the ceremony comes to an end.

Temple of Emerald Buddha

There are many more rites the Brahmins perform.

 

— SUBHAM–

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