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    Posted March 19, 2012 by
    Bangkok Thailand
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
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    Alms Offering Ceremony to 22,600 monks in Thailand


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Amy072 shared these photos and video of tens of thousands of Buddhists massing in the streets of Bangkok, Thailand, for an almsgiving ceremony to raise money for victims of last year's flooding. 'Everyone that came out that day was amazed at the beauty and at the kindness that was taking place,' she said. 'There were many foreigners who joined in this event as well. In short, the scene was magical.'
    - jmsaba, CNN iReport producer

    On the morning of Sunday March 18th 2012, there was an event that took place in the middle of Bangkok which caught the attention of many. It is one of the many events organized by Phrathepyanmahamunee, the Abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, in Pathum Thani Province along with the Dhammakaya Foundation. It was an event to offer non perishable goods to vast amounts of monks and novices that came from different parts of Thailand. In Buddhism terms, this kind of event is known as an Alms Offering.

    For today, the venue for the Alms Offering took place in the center of the city, the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. Since it was in the center of Bangkok and many people came to be a part of this event, there had to be three different stages where this event was held. These three places were interconnected which includes Siam Paragon, Central World, and Pratunaam. These three places are well known amongst tourists because this is the central shopping area of Bangkok. In front of Siam Paragon, which is known as "The Pride of Bangkok", as many people were offering food to the monks, if they look up above them, they can see the sky train past by. You get to see the train which symbolizes the fast-pace lives of the working population here in Bangkok, and the monks that were receiving alms symbolizes the peace and true beauty of Thailand.

    Before businesses opened for the day, the streets had to be close down for a total of 3km (1.86 miles) where a total of 22,600 monks and novices were able to receive alms (non perishable items) that thousands of people came to offer. not only were there thousands of Thais, but there were many tourists who came out to witness and be a part of this epic alms offering ceremony as well. many of them have never seen anything like this before. for an alms offering with over 22,000 monks and novices to take place, it is not something easy to organize. So, once it can be organized, it is considered to be amazing, beautiful, and historic. Many tourists came with cameras in hand snapping as many pictures as they could throughout the whole ceremony. We even had the privilege of having the Prime Minster of Thailand, Ms Yingluck Shinawatra as the chairwoman for today's ceremony.

    This is a special year because it marks the 2,600 years anniversary that Lord Buddha attain enlightenment. So for an alms offering this big to happen and for thousands of people both thais and non-thais to come out and support this event, shows that Buddhism is still flourishing here even after all those years. Another reason for this Alms Offering Ceremony is to help recuperate and revive the livelihood of those who were affected both physically and mentally by the flood that hit Thailand at the end of last year. On one hand, we remember the flood that destroyed many parts of Thailand but on the other hand, we are given hope, happiness, and strength as we see thousands and thousands of monks and people uniting together and showing kindness by the act of giving.

    After each Alms offering ceremony, the non perishable foods that were offered to the monks are then packed in big plastic bags and loaded on 10 wheel trucks to be sent to the 4 southern bordering province in Thailand. Why? Because these 4 provinces are known to be very unstable and violent. This has been the case for more than seven years now. We send the food to help aid those living in those province. Some of the food also goes to help aid people all over Thailand who are victims of any disasters that happen here in Thailand.

    March 2012, there are 6 big Alms Offering ceremonies that will be taking place. The amount of monks and novices that will be receiving alms will vary according to the 6 different venues. In total, there will be 133,000 monks and novices who will be taking part in this spectacular event. Todays Alms Offering Ceremony to 22,600 monks and novices enabled many people all over Thailand and people who are here visiting from all over the world to come together.
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